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Friday, October 05 2012 | Vol. 31, No. 40

Indo American erican News Published weekly from Houston, TX

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Ganapati Bappa Morya


Weddings in Houston Celebrates Its Silver Anniversary

Colorful Ganesh Procession in Houston

Shreya The Entertainer with the Big Voice

P3 IACF Gala 2012

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October 05, 2012



October 05, 2012


IACF Breaks the Mold on Traditional Fundraising; Showcasing Education

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA HOUSTON: In this era of what Punjabis call shor-sharaba – doing things loudly for show – when ostentatiousness has reached such a peak that people - and functions – outdo each other with lavish weddings and parties, it was refreshing to see one organization scale back its spending and do an about-turn this past Friday, September 28. This is the same organization that has long been associated with bringing its much anticipated glitzy programs to their annual Gala, some with extravagant stage shows, like the one two years ago which featured salsa dancers on one stage and a rock band on the other. In the past two years, the Indo American Charity Foundation, a 23 year-old non-profit has purposefully transitioned its efforts from a pass-through charity into a hands-on one, as it showed its new emphasis at its Gala held at the Texas Safari Ranch on FM 1464 on the far west side in Richmond. “We want to share the results of our pilot project with you,” said the IACF President, David Raj, who, despite having gone through a heart attack and bout with Cancer, which is now in remission, has personally donated large amounts to support the cause of education. Raj explained that last year the IACF initiated an Education Initiative that placed two tutors in the 5th and 6th grade math and science classes at Crockett Elementary, an inner city HISD school. “We realized that our students are woefully behind in these two subjects. By placing the tutors, we lowered the tutor-student ratio from 24 to 1 to 8 to 1.” The results were nothing short of fantastic, Raj went on to describe. In both courses, scores went up from failing to As and Bs and the winner of the Districtwide math competition was from Crockett Elementary. The keynote speaker, Andrea White, wife of former Houston

Keynote speaker, Andrea White, wife of former Houston Mayor Bill White.

Kids from the Crockett Elementary School Mariachi Band played during the social hour on the curving dual-staircase in the foyer.

IACF President, David Raj

The emcees for the evening, Sanjay Ram (left) and Vani Rao with The Math Competition winner, Brandon

Mayor Bill White and a wellknown author of children’s books, shared her experiences when outside her comfort zone; in dealing with children and the reactions she gets from them when asked to think outside the box and give her some idea of the future they envision. She lauded IACF for taking the bold step of augmenting classroom teaching with tutors and the fine results they have brought. The Math Competition winner, Brandon, a skinny young boy who

Iraq War Indo American Veterans, Capt. Mayoor Sharma (left) and Capt. Mayur Patel Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

attended the Gala with his parents, came to the podium in a black suit to explain his accomplishment in a short minute-long speech he had written, thanking the tutors by name for their help. The emcees for the evening, Sanjay Ram and Vani Rao, both IACF Directors, brought Brandon over as he was about to step off stage. “Brandon, what do you think IACF should do to help

other kids?” asked Rao. Brandon was quick on the response, “Keep doin’ what they’re doin’,” he said to huge applause. “Ladies and Gentlemen, mark the cards on your tables with the level at which you would like to support this program,” an enthused Ram called out. Immediately, a hand went up in the back, from another older student, followed by several more, holding their pledge cards. And with this the donations rolled , shortly followed by a live auction of six expensive items, conducted by Dr. Subodh Bhuchar, who is also a co-host of the “Open Forum” radio program. In the foyer where the guests came in, registered and had their drinks and appetizers during the social hour preceeding the program, they were able to linger and check out the 43 different silent auction items that were on display, many donated by the IACF Directors themselves, others from local businesses. By the end of the evening, nearly all of them were sold

off to the highest bidder. For many of the guests, this short and focused program – the entire event was over by 11pm – was a delightful and welcome change. “The speeches were short as was the entertainment and the lack of glitter was appealing,” said one guest who bought the painting by Sangeeta Pasrija in the live auction. “This showed that the money raised is going to the kids and not wasted.” Gone from the event was also a perrenial of all Galas: a printed souvenir, instead replaced by a slideshow featuring the evenings many supporters and projected during seating. Not to be overlooked, the entertainment, though short and decidely unflashy, was nevertheless a treat. Kids from the Crockett Elementary School Mariachi Band played during the social hour on the curving dual-staircase in the foyer. And during seating and dinner (catered by Dawaat and served in bowls at the tables), the school’s Jazz ensemble of five 10 year-old boys, accompanied by their teacher and a keyboard player, wonderfully played dinner music on xylophones. Another great highlight was the opening ceremony featuring the US and Indian National Anthems, both played by the ensemble, during which two Iraq War IndoAmerican veterans who were born and raised in Houston – Capt. Mayoor Sharma and Mayur Patel – strode through the aisle onstage and were honored for their service to the country. Indo American News (ISSN 887-5936) is published weekly every Friday (for a subscription of $40 per year) by IndoAmerican News Inc., 7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036, tel: 713-789-6397, fax:713789-6399, email: Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Indo American News,7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036



October 05, 2012



October 05, 2012

Interfaith Ministries Announces

New Dinner Dialogue Series

HOUSTON: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston announced a new Dinner Dialogue series focusing on three faiths of India: Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. The first dinner, focusing on the Hindu religion, will be held on November 8 from 6:30 to 9:30pm. Groups of 8-12 Houstonians will gather in private homes to learn about Hinduism as well as engage in a moderated discussion where all participants share a bit about their own faith traditions. Dinners will be held at volunteer host homes in neighborhoods across the Greater Houston Area. Participants will be able to choose a home at a location of their choice from the organization’s website when registration opens on October 8. “The Dinner Dialogue series seeks to create both an educational experience and an opportunity for Houstonians to develop new relationships across traditional religious boundaries,” said Lauren Santerre, Director of Interfaith Relations at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. “Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston sees this dinner series as a way to build relationships and strengthen the fabric of our city through genuine exchange of ideas and understanding with one another.” “Hindu Dharma teaches us how one should live one’ life and those values apply to every Human being. What better way to educate mainstream American of all different faiths than by inviting them to your home and discussing over dinner”.

said Sushma Mahajan of Hindus of Greater Houston. The event is free of charge and participants are simply asked to attend with respectful attitudes. The dinner series will continue in January with dinner focused on Sikhism and in March with a dinner focused on Buddhism. For more information on the Dinner Dialogue Series and how to participate, visit ### About Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston: Founded in 1969, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (IM) brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration and service. IM provides four main services including Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston which delivers more than one million meals each year to seniors in Harris county; Refugee Services which, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, resettles hundreds of refugees in Houston each year; Office of Disaster Preparedness and Response (ODPR) which facilitates communication on behalf of Houston’s faith communities during relief and recovery efforts and; Interfaith Relations which provides a safe harbor for greater Houston through its many interfaith programs and dialogue efforts.

HOUSTON: Vedanta Society of Greater Houston (VSGH) will be celebrating its Annual Durga Puja on Saturday, October 13. In keeping with the tradition of the Ramakrishna Order of India where the goddess /Mother is worshipped as an embodiment of Shakti, Swami Sarvadevananda will be performing the puja at VSGH’s temple located on 14809 Lindita Dr. The swami is a senior monk of the Vedanta Society of Southern California who is invited by VSGH to help celebrate the occasion and perform the worship in an authentic Belur Math tradition complete with chants, rituals, arati and pushpanjali. The puja starts at 9:30am and prasad lunch will be served at 1pm. In September 2011, VSGH consecrated its new temple. Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda are worshipped daily at VSGH. In addition, devotees gather every Sunday morning to discuss religious texts. The temple is open to the general public for limited hours, Saturday 6-7:30pm and Sunday 10:30am to 2pm. This facility serves as a venue for interfaith discussions and welcomes everyone irrespective of his/her religious persuasion believing firmly in Sri Ramakrishna’s most

important teaching that all faiths are but different paths to the same goal. The new temple was the culmination of three decades of relatively silent groundwork activity in Houston and as the number of attendees grew the need for VSGH to become an affiliated center of the Ramakrishna Mission of India has become ever so strong. VSGH is committed to service and strives to remember Swami Vivekananda’s ideal that the one who gets the opportunity to serve should do so with self-effacing humility. Work when done with this attitude is a form of worship. VSGH has recently started participating in community outreach programs and over time intends to have more involvement in such activities. With a new temple, interest from the local community, and a growing number of energetic volunteers the organization feels that the time is ripe to become more attune to the needs of the community while keeping its bearings on the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother and Swami Vivekananda. The Annual Durga Puja will be held at VSGH on Saturday, October 13 from 9:30am to 1pm.

VSGH to Celebrate Durga Puja on Oct 13




October 05, 2012

AAPI/IDA Holds First Fundraiser to Support Charity Medical Services

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA HOUSTON: The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the Indian Doctors Association of Houston (IDA), held their first ever joint fundraiser this past Saturday, September 29 to support charity medical services here in Houston and all across the US. The event consisted of a series of educational seminars and dinner at the University

of Antigua, Prince Holdings, Universal Healthcare and Long Term Cash and then distributed to the local medical associations in the same nine cities. The AAPI President Dr. Narendra Kumar and President-elect Dr. Jayesh Shah organized the nine-city program, while Dr. Raghu Athre put together the event’s souvenir which was distributed in all nine cities. The IDA President Dr. Kulwinder Bajwa,

Dr. Freemu Varghese (left), Dr. Nik Nikam, Shreya Ghoshal, Dr. Narendra Kumar and Dr. Kulwinder Bajwa. Photo: Bijay Dixit

of Houston’s University Center and a concert by the popular Indian playback singer Shreya Ghoshal and her backup singers, band and dancers at the adjoining Cullen Auditorium to a capacity crowd of 1,600. The same formula was being used across the country in nine cities – Charlotte, NC; New York City; Columbus, OH; Atlanta, GA; Washington, DC; Orlando, FL; Dallas, TX and San Jose, CA – where local Doctors associations teamed up with AAPI to raise funds through donations from their members and local businesses. These funds are then to be combined with the donations from national sponsors Mercedes Benz Financial Services, American University

Dr. Freemu Varghese and Dr. Ashok Tripathy brought together the educational seminars which were attended by more than 200 people. Locally, Madhu and Dr. Bobby Wadera; Usha and Tej Ganju worked at the concert box office and Dr. Manish Gandhi, Dr. Uttam Tripahty, and Dr. Subodh Chauhan and the local sponsors helped to pull off the well-received concert (see review below). AAPI has prepared a a 15-minute video highlighting the AAPI’s charitable initiative in conjunction with the Shreya Ghoshal show, which has had over 22,000 views in more than 121 countries on YouTube.


Aisha’s Expands in Little India with Laser Med Spa

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA HOUSTON: It was the site of the second Aisha’s Hair Salon years ago in the mid 90s when Aisha and her husband Khalid Hasib first thought of expanding their concept from their first Aisha’s ‘s Hair Salon on Wilcrest near Savoy Supermarket. Now, almost 15 years later, the salon in Little India, which has been a favorite of many a desi woman, has undergone a massive remodeling that leaves it with double the space. “We literally torn down Aisha Khalid cutting the cake along with her sons most of the walls and redid Rahman, Usman, Ahmad, Daughter in law Saher and everything, down to the light husband Khalid Hasib (right). fixtures,” explained a jubilant Khalid as he into offering laser cosmetics treatments as and his entire family welcomed well-wish- well as the other services in the salon,” he ers and customers to their renovated salon. added. Music Masala DJ Sunil T and his site “We think that the timing is right to expand crew, along with the trademark rickshaw and Ambassador taxi reported onsite and interviewed the Hasibs and customers. Aisha’s Laser Med Spa is the first of its kind attached to the Salons and soon the Hasibs plan to offer it in every one of their salon locations across the greater Houston area. In the last three weeks, they have opened two locations, one in Copperfield and the other in The Woodlands. “Before Christmas this year, we’ll open one more,” disclosed Khalid, “and follow up with another one by February or March.” Of all the locations, only four are franchises. The entire Hasib family is now involved in the growing business enterprise, as sons Usman and Ahmed have joined in the past 18 months and Ahmed’s wife Saher will manage the Spa on Hillcroft. “We’re just waiting for the youngest boy, Rehman, who Aisha Khalid with family at Aisha’s is 15” grinned Khalid, “to finish his schoolLaser Med Spa on Hillcroft ing and have him join in too!”

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA HOUSTON: Every so often, Houstonians get a chance to see a really Big present day Indian star up close and just get carried away with the entertainment that they dish out. Most of the times, the economics and logistics make it impossible to get a good close seat to get a sense of what they are like and you need binoculars to see their theatrics. Not so with the Shreya Ghoshal show that visited the Bayou City this past Saturday, September 29 through the efforts of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (see above). Ghoshal’s concerts for AAPI were carved out of her much longer tour of the US, Canada, Trinidad and Guyana by Shri Balaji Entertainment of Florida and a special souvenir book was produced especially for the nine cities involved. Locally, Dr. Nik Nikam, a well-known cardiologist, author, humorist and community activist spearheaded the organization of the show held at the University of Houston’s Cullen Auditorium, surprisingly so since the show could have easily sold out to much more than the 1,600 people who packed the hall. But, that worked out to the benefit of the concert goers who had a chance to sit it comfortable seats (rather than stadium style hard seats) and see Shreya upclose. And, it turned out six songs into the 4 hour show,

Photo: Bijay Dixit

Shreya Ghoshal: The Entertainer with the Big Voice

that Shreya wanted to be upclose to the audience too when she asked for the house lights to be turned up so that she could see them! Throughout the show, Shreya made it personal by talking to the crowd between each song. The concert started with some opening words of appreciation by the local physicians who organized the event, with Nikam expressing his thanks and then led into two opening songs by local Texan Dixie Patel. Nikam, who is an amateur video special effects editor worked the light board and projected the laser show graphics that he had developed. The seven dancers with the show performed several numbers and the eight musicians on tour with Shreya did a wonderful job on all the songs. But the night belonged to Shreya who was introduced onstage by Jefferey Iqbal, who represented the US on Zee TV’s popular show “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa” and performed

with A. R. Rehman in 2007. Iqbal performed Mithwa and Parda hai Parda during the mid-set break. Another backup singer, Prithvi Gandharv performed a few songs like Jiye bole that got everyone to sing along and later sang with Shreya on duets. Shreya began her set dressed in a tight, bright blue satin dress and started with a song from the movie Jism. “I have a PhD in romance,” Shreya said, “and this number is for those who love to love,” as she went into Wadha raha paya se pyar ka with a heavy dhol beat. She encouraged the crowd to clap and get boisterous, to give some feedback and many times throughout the show, Shreya prodded the audience to sing in the gaps to her songs. She sang “tuj ko bhula ke b jahon kahan?” and the hit song from Rab ne Bana de Joddi. With Prithvi sang several of her well known duets like Tera mast mast do naiyna, meri dil ki le gayi chaan and Piya re Piya. Shreya was particularly good on Mashala which featured the dancers belly dancing, and followed it up with Hey Dola re, dola. Shreya started the second set, looking very hot in a pair of gold tight fitted jeans and black jacket, with the song Zubi Dubi. And turned to “Item songs” like Hoth Rasile from the movie Welcome. She danced with her group in Dil Phisal Gaya and went on to sing the hit number Ooh la la from the movie Dirty Picture and ending with the

very popular song Chikni Chameli which brought the house down. After this, Shreya accepted requests from the audience which wanted songs in every regional language. She said that she would then have to sing in 15 languages to make everyone happy. She sang a small segment of a Tamil song and then paid tribute to the legendary Singer Lata Mangeshkar who had turned 84 the previous day by singing the song Lag Jaa Gale. She sang another Salil Chowdhury composition sung by Lata in both Bengali and Hindi (Ogo aar kichhu to nai/Tasveer tere dil ke). She admitted that Malayalam for her was the toughest language she has ever sung in and looked up the lyrics on her iPad. She then sang a few lines of a Gujarati garba song and went back to one of her most favorite songs ever Yeh Zindagi usiki hai from the film Anarkali. In response to Punjabi requests, she pointed out the fact that every Hindi movie these days has at least one Punjabi song, and she had already sung a few. Since it was a rainy day outside, in response to the audience’s request, she sang Barso re megha barso from the movie Guru. She thanked the sponsors Balaji entertainment, AAPI and ended her performance by enthralling the audience with Aami je tomar from the movie Bhulbhulaiya. -Sanchali Basu also contributed to this story



October 05, 2012

TIPS Collects Funds for Charities; Saint PJ’s Children Home & AAPI Charitable Foundation

SAN ANTONIO: During the fourth annual Charitable Gala and Leadership conference organized by Texas Indo American Physician Society SW Chapter (TIPS-SW), an association of physicians of Indian origin in the Southwest region, over $40,000 was raised to support local charities, international causes and towards a new scholarship program. The annual event sponsored by local physicians, hospitals and medical vendors of the Alamo City, was held on September 15 at the Holy Trinity Banquet Hall and was attended by more than 450 local physicians and medical fraternity of Indian origin. TIPS SW has is has contributed annually four years in a row to the parent organiza-

to start a scholarship program for medical students at University Health Science Center in San Antonio. To loud cheers from the audience, Dr. Sanjana, lauded the local and national leaders who cme from TIPS-SW Chapter - Dr. Vijay Koli, former President of AAPI, Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy and Dr. Jayesh Shah, President-elect AAPI. The 32nd annual AAPI convention will be held in San Antonio from June 25 -29, 2014 coinciding with the Presidency of Dr. Jayesh Shah. In his keynote address, Dr. Jayesh Shah, the youngest president-elect of AAPI applauded the contributions of TIPS SW chapter and it’s present and past leaders for their

Rahul Reddy

Emily Neumann

Dr. Neela Patel (left), President, TIPS SW chapter, Dr. Anupama Gotimukala, TIPS SW President Elect, Dr. Nandkishore Gurram, Secretary, TIPS SW chapter, Dr. Jayesh Shah, President Elect, AAPI, Dr. Hormaz Sanjana, Treasurer and Gala Chair 2012, TIPS SW Chapter.

tion, AAPI Charitable Trust for operating charitable clinics in India and US. The Leadership Conference, organized by Dr. Monika Kapur and Dr. Shankar Sanka, had three distinguished speakers. Dr. Sandra L Oakes MD, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Geriatric Division, UTHSCSA, spoke on “Geriatrics for the Subspecialties;” Dr. Jennifer Marie Healy DO, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of Palliative Education, UTHSCSA, spoke on “Communicating the Bad News Effectively” and Dr. Ronald L. Blumoff, MD, MBA FACS, Vascular Surgeon and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Healthcare Management at Jindal School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas, provided the participants with an insightful lecture on “Physician LeadershipLook Within.” Dr. Hormaz Sanjana, Gala Chair and Treasurer of the SW chapter, hosted the evening with much fanfare, glitz and glamour. The theme was “An Evening in Paris” which was also a tribute to the beloved late Bollywood actor Shammi Kapoor. The crowd swayed to the tunes of Shammi Kapoor hits performed live by Dr. Sanjana. Of the total money raised this year, $25,000 is being donated to St PJ Children’s Home; another $10,000 will go to te AAPI Charitable Foundation, and $5,000 has been donated

continued charitable giving over the years. “I consider it a great honor and a rare opportunity,” Shah said of his election to AAPI, “AAPi is the largest ethnic medical organization in the US and the second largest medical organization, second only to AMA”. Shah expressed concern over the many challenges faced by physicians across the United States, saying that many felt they were losing their autonomy every day, spending more time in electronic medical records than holding hands and speaking to patients. Dr. Neela K. Patel, President of TIPS-SW presented the check for the $5,000 scholarship to the chief guest of the evening Dr. Francisco Gonzalez Scarano, Dean of the Medical School at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio. TIPS SW also contributes annually to the local India Association of San Antonio and will donate $5,000 during it’s annual Diwali function this year, she added. Patel described the goals and objectives of the TIPS-SW Chapter as a forum to facilitate and enable Indian-American Physicians in the Southwest region to excel in patient care, teaching and research, and to pursue their aspirations in professional and community affairs. For more information, visit www.tipssw. org.

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October 05, 2012


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QUEENS, NEW YORK: Nirmal Lifestyle, the leading developer of real estate in India, has become the first Indian company chosen to sponsor the US Open. The company has furthered its commitment to healthier living by introducing the first sports lifestyle apartment complex in affiliation with the US Open, the “Nirmal - US Open Apartments”. In becoming the first Indian company sponsoring the 2012 US Open, Nirmal Lifestyle has once more shown its commitment to health and physical fitness. None was more evident than the development of a lifestyle living complex dedicated to the US Open philosophy of showcasing the best of the best. Nirmal - US Open Apartments in Mumbai offers extensive fitness facilities including a hi-tech gymnasium, Olympicsized tennis and basketball courts, jogging and cycling tracks and swimming pools. The complex is designed with the most state of the art amenities to ensure a healthy lifestyle. At a press conference attended by many prominent officials, Dharmesh Jain, Chairman and Managing Director for Nirmal,

said, “We are proud to be the first Indian company sponsoring the US Open. Nirmal has always been committed to promoting healthier living through innovative design. Working with the US Open organization in developing the US Open Apartments in Mumbai reinforces Nirmal’s commitment in supporting a more active life for young and old. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the US Open in the years to come.” For more information on Nirmal Lifestyle and the US Open Apartments, visit www. About Nirmal Lifestyle Nirmal Lifestyle is a leading real estate company in India based in Mumbai, where it has been instrumental in developing Mulund as a preferred suburb of the city through its integrated development plan including developing retail spaces, residential apartments, office complexes and luxury hotels. The company has an exclusive alliance with US Open (USTA) and Discovery to bring world class sporting facilities of international standards to India.


Writers are requested to limit their words to 500. The deadline for advertising and articles is 5 pm on Tuesday of each week. For more information, call 713.789.NEWS (6397) or email us at



October 05, 2012

“Weddings in Houston” Celebrates its Silver Anniversary

BY MANU SHAH HOUSTON: Planning a wedding with its zillion details could make anyone get out their smelling salts. Choosing a venue, finalizing the menu, the flowers, invitations, décor not to mention having to be diplomatic about outlandish suggestions from friends and relatives - it’s enough to make you wish you’d eloped. But the good news is there’s help at hand and it’s called “Weddings in Houston”. A gutsy decision to quit his “nickels and dimes paying engineering job” prompted JB Day and his wife Radhika to get into publishing and thus was born “Weddings in Houston”. Why was the decision gutsy? Houston’s economy had hit rock bottom and that is putting it charitably. There was no money and plenty of recession talk. The silver lining was that “I do’s” still continued to be said and what originally started as a black and white magazine has evolved into a stylish, colorful glossy or as someone put it - the “Vogue” of Wedding magazines. A staff of just 7 which includes JB, Radhika and their son splits the work between them to bring out the biannual issues. For a magazine that has devoted itself completely to being the best resource guide for organizing a mid to high end wedding, they’re

Radhika Day, Publisher of Weddings in Houston Magazine

blowing out the candles, popping the champagne and raising a toast – and why not, they’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Weddings in Houston.” How would they describe their journey? “Extraordinary and to always expect the unexpected” The magazine caters to both In-

dian and American weddings and the breakdown of vendors for everything from rings to honeymoons is done very ingeniously category wise. For instance, if a bride wants to get an idea about flowers for the wedding and reception – she can find a list of florists and decoration ideas back to back. Once the florist is finalized, the bride can go to the next item on her to-do list. One hopes this organized approach helps her walk down the aisle or in the case of an Indian wedding to the mandap with her sanity intact. Couples are also invited to send in their stories and wedding details to be published in the magazine. Isn’t it strange how one only speaks of the bride and the bridegroom seems incidental. Well, sometimes he’s entrusted with the responsibility of planning the honeymoon. So what’s in and what’s out in Indian weddings? According to Radhika and JB, palkis are making a comeback

in a big way, mangalsutras are on their way out, elephants are in, yes, you read that right, and while Shah Rukh may no longer be ruling Bollywood , he is definitely ruling our Sangeet nights. The Bollywood influence can be seen in the music and in every dance performance. Another interesting trend is the intermingling of western and Indian wedding practices as the bride and groom have a say in what they’d like for their wedding. This way, Mom and Dad are happy and so are the bride and groom. Two things haven’t changed – Indian Dads still pick up the tab and no one comes on time. What is the future like? JB’s take is that weddings will be bigger and more extravagant. Destinations weddings will get more popular, not necessarily for Indians, as we have anywhere from 500-1000 guests at our dos. A surprising piece of information was that the sundrenched beaches of Galveston and a few places in Austin close to the lake are a popular choice


for a destination wedding. For those who can’t make it to Atlantis in the Bahamas, here’s a great option. Extravagant weddings may make the headlines but Radhika recalls two weddings that touch the heart. One of the brides was a cancer survivor and her fiancée stood by her until she was given a clean bill of health. Likewise another bride was the victim of a major car accident and bound to a wheelchair. Both these couples tied the knot re- JB Day, Founder and Chief Executive cently. There was Officer of Weddings in Houston magazine, probably not a dry Houston’s longest running local magazine in eye among the existence today. humor and listening to each other. guests that day. Weddings in Houston can be When you’ve been in this business for so long and have a 34 year picked up at newsstands, bookold marriage yourself – you may stores, online and 950 plus grocery have some sage advice for couples stores in Texas for just $5.95. For more information, visit www. taking the vows. According to JB and Radhika – it is commitment,


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CGI Atlanta Resumes Passport and Misc. Services WASHINGTON, DC: The Consulate General of India in Atlanta started its Passport/Misc Services operations with effect from October 1, 2012. Visa/OCI/PIO services at CGI Atlanta will commence at a later date. With effect from October 1, the consular jurisdictions in respect of the Embassy of India, Washington, DC and the five Consulates General in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta in respect of Passport/Misc Services operations and Consular outreach activities only would be as follows: • New York: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont • San Francisco: Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming • Chicago: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin • Houston: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Nebraska • Atlanta: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virgin Islands • Washington,DC: Bermuda, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia Passport Services in all jurisdictions will continue to be handled by the Service Provider, VFS Global. The addresses of VFS Global Service Centres in respect of each of the above mentioned cities can be accessed at http://www.vfsglobal. com/india/usa Miscellaneous Services would continue to be provided by the

Embassy and Consulates at their respective premises. For CGI, Atlanta, Passport applications will be accepted at VFS Global at its premises at India Passport Application Center - Atlanta, North Side Tower, Suite 120, 6065 Roswell Rd, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. For more information, visit www. or www. For Miscellaneous Consular services, applicants may visit the Consulate General at 5549, Glenridge Dr. NE, Atlanta, GA-30342 between 10am and 12.30 pm. No prior appointment is required. Visa / OCI / PIO and related services will not be handled by CGI, Atlanta as yet. The services for Visa/OCI/PIO and related matters would continue to be provided as per the allocation of states shown below until further notification:

• New York: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virgin Islands • San Francisco: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming • Chicago: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin • Houston: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas • Atlanta: Nil • Washington,DC: Bermuda, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia The Visa/OCI/PIO and related services will continue to be handled by Travisa Outsourcing Agency till further notification. For more information about Travisa, visit

Manav Kanya at Miller Outdoor Theatre on Oct 7 at 1000 Lights for Peace Event Manav Kanya is a dance drama, showcasing the story of an untouchable girl ‘Prakriti’- an outcaste in her own village; and her redemption when Anand, a Buddhist monk, asks her for water and makes her realize that she is as human as he is, created equal by God. ‘Manav Kanya’ is inspired by the famous Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Chandalika’, this dance drama showcases the reality of the society and its inherent disparities, prejudices and the universal search for love and happiness that is as relevant in today’s society as it was when it was first written. Mahatma Gandhi was a strong proponent of human equality as well as ending untouchability. He was an admirer of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and his works. Both in their own ways worked towards creating social awareness and encouraging ethnic harmony and peace. Manav Kanya dancers include: Dancers: Ananya Sen Gupta, Joyee Chakrabarti, Shinjini Bhattacharya, Nikita Ghosh, Anusha Sen Gupta, Kasturi Bandyopadhyay, Ahana Biswas, Adi Mookerjee , Arpita Mukhopadhyay, Monidipa Sinharoy, Chandrani Datta, Aditi Chakraborty, Swati Chakrabarti, Paromita Sen Gupta, Rakhi Choudhury, Sanchali Basu and Piyal Sen Gupta.

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October 05, 2012

Ram Leela at Wortham Center on Oct. 28

HOUSTON: Shri Sita Ram Foundation, a 501 ( C ) (3) non profit organization based in Houston, produced and introduced Ram Leela on a major scale in a theatre setting in Houston for the first time in 2010 to a packed theatre. It was produced again in 2011 to a full house. Ram Leela play in Houston has now become an annual activity undertaken by the Foundation, as a service to the community in Houston. Knowing that the audience is always looking for something new and more interesting, the play this year will be presented in a new and interesting manner, completely different from the prior two years. This play is being Directed by two of Houston’s best Directors and Choreographers, Dr. Rathna Kumar and Shiva Mathur. A famous film actress of South India, Divya Unni is also giving her dazzling performance in the play. The play has attracted the best talents of the community in their common goal to Glorify Lord Ram and reinforce our values and culture not only among our community members ( adults & children) but also to showcase it to mainstream America. This exciting Ram Leela play is being presented on October 28 in the prestigious Wortham Center, in the Theatre District of downtown Houston from 5 to 8pm. Consul General of India, P. Harish and the Chancellor of the University of Houston System, Dr. Renu Khator will be the honored guests at the play. To buy tickets, visit www. or collect them from various outlets on Hillcroft and Sugar Land such as Maharani Music, Keemat Grocers and Patel Brothers. Lord Ram is the seventh avatar of Vishnu and King of Ayodhya. He was born in the Raghuvanshi dynasty. He is considered to be Mryada Purshottam or Lord of virtue, the perfect human being. He is the husband of Sita the avatar of Laxmi and the perfect embodiment of womanhood. The legend of Ram is deeply influential and popular in societies of the Indian subcontinent and across Southeast Asia and the globe. Lord Ram is revered for his unending compassion, courage and devotion to religious values and duty. Ram Leela is simply an enactment of the Epic Ramayana. It covers the complete life, values, principles and teachings of Lord Ram.

The life and values of Lord Ram are the best lesson to be learnt in one’s life. Ram Leela remains the best visual treat and learning experience in life. At the same time it is entertaining and fun. This is especially true for children who may find reading the epic Ramayana or the Ram Charitmanas cumbersome and dry , however, they find Ram Leela to be interesting and through this their young minds absorb many things about culture and religion. To move from one episode of Ram’s life to the next is like a pilgrimage to most Hindus and indeed worship in action.

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style is visible in Jhankis depicting scenes from Lord Ram’s life and are taken throughout the city. This style was started by Kashi 14340 Torrey Chase Blvd. Suite 110 Houston, Texas 77014 Naresh , Maharaja Udit Narayan (281) 583-2993 (281) 580-8700 Fax(281) 580-7550 Singh of Kashi in 1830, which are performed everyday for 31 days. In Ram Nagar permanent Over 25 year experience sets have been built and the entire town becomes a vast set for Ram Leela. The audience moves with the performers with each episode to various sets, such as Janakpuri, Panchvati, Lanka, so on and so forth. This is the most extensive, best-performed Ram Leela which draws the largest audience, including hundreds of sadhus called Ramayanis. The Almora or Kumaon style incorporates musical renderings of the Katha based on the theatrical style developed by Uday Shankar. Next is the operatic Being Sold by Order of the Corporate Owners Due to Partnership Dissolution style which incorporates 6789:7;<94=!>! elements of folk theatre along with traditional 5?--76594=!@A:!:7"7=?@-7;<!=4;: style where the couplets 4JJ,+Q$U!V+,!WDH20!AL#)(!JSC(!5+KK$,E#MS of Ramcharitmanas not only act as dialogues but Greensboro, NC - Guilford Co. <BC,(1D!?E)+'$,!2FD!GH2G!I!GJK as chorus as well. Selling to the Highest Bidder Regardless of Price at the End of Auction! Lastly there are Ram4CE)#+L!=+EM)#+LN!O+C,P!5+LQ$L)#+L!5$L)$,! leela staged by professional R#S)K+,$!6++KD!T,$$L('+,+D!;5 troupes called Mandalis. "#$%!&$'(#)$!*+,!-+,$ NCAL 3936 ~ 800.997.2248 WWW.IRONHORSEAUCTION.COM! A special way to present Ramleela is through puppetry which is more prominent in Rajasthan. In Karnataka, the Carnatic dance Katakali with elaborate masks and dress •Quality Advocacy •Creating Working Relationships •Honesty and Objectivity present the story in silent theatre. In Ayodhya, The law firm of Donnelly-Ashby & Nguyen, PLLC is the curtains nevdedicated to providing quality immigration advice and er come down legal counsel to domestic and international on Ram Leela. It companies and individuals. has been going on for 6 years The attorneys at Donnelly-Ashby & Nguyen PLLC combine now for full 365 have over fifteen years of immigration experience. Anne T. Nguyen days/yr. at the Tulsi Smarak through the self-petitioning processes to •Temporary Nonimmigrant Classifications Bhavan by difobtain permanent resident status. The law firm of Donnelly-Ashby & Nguyen, ferent Ram LeePLLC provides immigration assistance and •Employment Compliance la troupes from legal counsel to corporations wishing to Equally important, the law firm provides bring foreign national workers to work in the various parts of corporate clients with comprehensive and United States on a temporary basis, such as the country. proactive legal guidance to establish and the E-1, E-2, E-3, B-1 in lieu of H-1B, L-1, In Delhi the maintain Form I-9 compliance policies and TN nonimmigrant classifications, to name a Ram Leela bepractices. In addition, Donnelly-Ashby & few. came more popNguyen, PLLC offers legal guidance on the ular at the Ram ever changing complex E-Verify system and •Immigrant Classifications performs onsite Form I-9 and LCA Public Donnelly-Ashby & Nguyen, PLLC also Leela Grounds provides legal advice to corporations wishing Access File audits. outside the histo sponsor foreign nationals to become pertoric Delhi Fort. •Citizenship and Naturalization manent residents as multinational managers This was started The law firm of Donnelly-Ashby & Nguyen or executive or through the Labor Certificain the times of PLLC also assist clients with citizenship and tion process. Further, the attorneys dedicate the Mogul Emnaturalization filings. considerable time to assisting individuals in peror Bahadur family based cases and those who proceed Shah Zafar. Needless to Free 30 min consultation every Wednesday. say, that Ram Leela is a unifying, cultural and Anne T. Nguyen religious force Attorney at Law in India. Donnelly-Ashby & Nguyen, PLLC 10200 Richmond Avenue, Suite 210 Houston, Texas 77042 email: - web:

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It is celebrated across India. In India, the Ram Leela is not only followed by Hindus but by people of different religion. Many cities in India hold Ram Leela annually from, 7, 14 and 31 days during the auspicious Sharad Navratri . Usually, the performances are timed to culminate on the festival of Vijay Dasmi or Dusshera. That culminates the victory of Lord Ram over the evil king Ravana, or the victory of Good over evil. The climax is the burning of the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnath. Most Ram Leela plays are based on the 16th century Avadhi version of Ramcharitmanas. History: Historically it is believed that first Ram Leela plays were staged by Megha Bhagat, one of the disciples of Tulsi das. Although some scholars believe that Ram Leela first appeared somewhere between 1200 and 1500 AD prior to Ram Charitmanas. Nevertheless, it is safe to conclude that Ram Lila plays became more popular after Ram Charit manas was written in Avadhi as it could be understood by the masses as opposed to Ramayana the Sanskrit text. Styles of Ram Leela at some prominent places in India: Today, several regions of India have developed their distinctive forms of Ram Leela. There are numerous variants of Ram Leela presentations in UP ( Uttar Pradesh) itself. Ram Leela can be operatic, dramatic, or silent. The most prominent Ram Leela is that of Ram Nagar, 15 km. from Varanasi which is staged over multiple venues, the pantomime


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12 October 05, 2012

Two Indian American Billionaires Pledge Their Wealth to Charity

BANGALORE (SI): Romesh Wadhwani and Manoj Bhargava, two Indian Americans have signed on to the ‘Giving Pledge’, a campaign which intends to encourage the wealthiest people in America to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to charity. The campaign is an initiative by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Manoj Bhargava is the founder and CEO of 5-hour Energy, a 2-ounce energy shot. According to Bhargava “My choice was to ruin my son’s life by giving him money or giving 90+percent to charity. Not much of a choice,” Bhargava wrote in a letter, reports Steve Spalding of Detroit Free Press. “Service to others seems the only

Manoj Bhargava is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder and CEO of 5-hour Energy, a 2-ounce energy shot.

intelligent choice for the use of wealth.” Beginning of his career, Bhargava worked as a construction laborer, construction cleaning contractor, accounting clerk, taxi

Romesh T. Wadhwani is the founder and chairman of Symphony Technology Group, a private equity firm investing in software and software services companies

driver and tried his luck in many more sectors. In the 90’s he started a consumer products company, ‘Living Essentials’, which later

on came up with the well-known product “5-Hour Energy”. He was honoured with the “Newsmaker of the Year” award in 2011, by the Crain’s Detroit Business. Romesh Wadwani is the chairman and CEO of Symphony Technology Group, a Silicon Valleybased private equity firm. “I have made a lot of money in the West and I do not believe in much of personal consumption,” says Bhargava, reports Economic Times. Moreover, he has established Hans Foundation, an Indian based non-profit organization which mainly focuses on charity work. The foundation has provided financial support to more than 400 charity projects among which

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cancer treatment to the poor patients of Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital is something worth mentioning. To this Indian American Billionaire, his organization on charity is as important as his companies, reports Ishani Duttagupta of Economic Times. “I’m from an Indian family of professionals and my parents had to go through hardships themselves to send me to IIT-Mumbai. And having got the best of education myself, I firmly believe it is my personal obligation to give back to the community,” he says. He also believes that “Leaving too much for one’s children will take away their own entrepreneurial skills.’’

Discourse on Shirdi Sai Baba on Sat, Oct 6

S. Vishwanathan of Irving, TX will present a discourse on the Shirdi Sai Baba and His Leelas on Saturday, October 6 at 6.30pm at Shirdi Sai Jalaram Mandir, 13845 W Bellfort St, Sugar Land, TX 77498. For more information, call Uma Mantravadi at 281-533-4904 or Nandini Narasimhan 832-533-4904 or visit S. Vishwanathan is one of the very few - probably the only one - to have seen and been personally blessed by Shirdi Baba Himself on several occasions in his Life. He has this unique “Rinanubandha” with Shirdi Baba, developed through several births. S. Vishwanathan possesses a deeply personal understanding of Shirdi Baba and is aware of the fact that this truth very often evades us in our lives. For more information, see ad on page 15

S. Vishwanathan

Soorya Festival: First Time in USA DECEMBER

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HOUSTON: Soorya, the largest art society in the world, will be presenting a show for the first time in USA. Soorya, known for Soorya Festival that is touted as one of the the longest and most prestigious cultural events in India, is founded and headed by Padmasree Dr. Soorya Krishnamoorthy. Soorya Krishnamoorthy is known as the pioneer in presenting an artistic extravaganza with lights and sounds and fusion of music and dance. 15 prominent artistes from all over India will perform at this year’s soorya festival in USA, that is to be held across 15 cities during May - Jun 2013. Soorya Festival in USA is organized by Freedia Entertainment, a Houston based entertainment company. “Freedia Entertainment was founded to promote culture through diversity and entertainment” said Dr. Freemu Varghese , the president of Freedia Entertainment. Freedia Entertainment has

conducted several shows across USA over the last 5 years and also have entered in to movie production and distribution in Malayalam. In this multi-level stage show named Pranamam, Sheela Mani and Ziaya Ul Haq entice with their mellifluous voices, while Rajendra Gangani, Sonia and Bharathi perform Kathak; Madhu and Sajeev fascinate with Samudranatanam and Dakshina Vaidyanathan mesmerizes with her magical moves in Bharathanatyam. This audio visual spectacle is directed by Soorya Krishnamoorthy and music composed by the famous music director pandit Ramesh Narayan. “This uniquely choreographed event artfully combines dance, music and indian cinema into a captivating audio-visual experience. It showcases a unique repertoire of a fusion of classical and contemporary dance forms by reputed dancers dancing to evergreen popular film

songs supported by singers and video projections.” Dr. Zacharia Thomas , a managing director at Freedia Entertainment, said. Soorya’ Krishnamoorthy , Freedia Entertainment President Dr Freemu Varghese , and directors Dias Damodharan and Dr Zacharia Thomas informed the press that , there will be atleast one Soorya Show conducted every year from 2013 in USA in association with Freedia Entertainment . Freedia Entertainment will also be conducting a musical symphony across USA by Padmasree K.S Chithra and national award winner MG Sreekumar during Aug-Sep 2013 . For organizations interested to host the show in different cities in USA and any one interested in providing sposorship, call 832-6439942 or 832-643-09131. For more information, visit or www.facebook. com/FreediaEntertainment



October 05, 2012



14 October 05, 2012


The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi Suffers Racial Insults in South Africa

The story thus far: Gandhi, having studied well and completed his law degree in England, returns to India. He misses England but is happy to be reunited with his family. He begins practicing law in Rajkot. Upon return to India, Gandhi started to practice law in Rajkot, but he was soon deeply disgusted at the greed and dishonesty of many of his fellow professionals. After some time, he got an offer to work in South Africa from Dada Abdulla & Co who owned big business concerns there. He was to be a legal adviser to the firm that had filed a lawsuit against another company seeking damages of 400,000 dollars. They hired Gandhi for his fluency in the English language and his knowledge of English law. He was contracted for one year and was promised a substantial salary and first class passage to South Africa. The lure of seeing a different country and meeting new people piqued Gandhi’s interest. He accepted the offer, even though it was difficult to be apart from his wife and young son. In April 1893 he left Bombay for South Africa. He reached the port of Natal at the end of May 1893. In South Africa, he noticed that Indians were treated with little respect. They were called “coolies”, a derogatory term. Within a week of his arrival, he visited the court with Abdulla Seth of Dada Abdulla & Co. No sooner had he sat down that the magistrate pointed his plump finger at him and said “You must remove your turban”. Gandhi was surprised. He

looked around. There were several Muslim and Parsi men wearing turbans. He could not understand why he was being singled out. “I see no reason why I should remove my turban. I refuse to do so,” said Gandhi. When the magistrate insisted that he remove his turban, Gandhi walked out of the court. Abdulla Seth ran after him and caught him by the arm. “You don’t understand,” said Seth. “These white people consider Indians inferior and address

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them as coolie or sami. Parsis and Muslims are allowed to wear turbans as the turban is thought to have religious significance,” added Seth. “The magistrate insulted me,” Gandhi said angrily. “Any such rule is an insult to a free man. I shall write at once to the Durban Press to protest such insulting rules.” And Gandhi did write. The letter was published and it led to unexpected debate and discussion. At the same time, some other papers described Gandhi as a troublemaker and unwelcome visitor. After a week in Durban, he left for Pretoria to attend to the case for which he was engaged. With a first class ticket, he boarded the train. At the next stop, an Englishman got into the compartment. He was traveling to Pretoria too, in the first class compartment. He looked at Gandhi with contempt and called the conductor. “Take this coolie out and put him in a lower class!” he ordered. The conductor turned to Gandhi and said, “Hey Sami, come along with me to the next compartment.” Insulted, Gandhi refused to move saying that he had purchased a first class seat and was entitled to be there. The conductor called a policeman who pushed him off the train with his bag and baggage. The train left and Gandhi spent the night shivering in the cold. This incident changed the whole course of his life. He decided to fight all such injustices. He sent a note of protest to the

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general manager of the railways, but the official only supported the rail employees. More trouble was in store for him. The next morning, he went to Charlestown by train. He had now to travel by a stagecoach to Johannesburg, but he was not allowed to sit inside the coach with white passengers. To avoid confrontation Gandhi sat outside on the coach-box behind The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi is brought to you courtesy Mahatma Gandhi Library. the coachman. After some time the conductor asked him to sit on a dirty sack on the step below. Gandhi refused. The conductor began to pull him down and beat him. At this time, some of the passengers came to Gandhi’s rescue and he was allowed to sit with them. Gandhi reached Johannesburg the next night, quite shaken by the experiences on the way. He had the

address of a Muslim merchant’s house, where he spent the night. The next day he bought a first class ticket and continued his train journey to Pretoria. The only other passenger in the compartment was a well-dressed Englishman. A little later, a conductor entered and Gandhi quickly showed him the ticket. “Your ticket does not matter,” growled the conductor. “Go to the third class compartment at once!” Before Gandhi could reply, the Englishman said, “Why are you harassing this gentleman? His ticket gives him a right to be here.” And then turning to Gandhi, he told him to make himself comfortable. Thanking him warmly, Gandhi settled down with a book. It was late in the evening when the train pulled into Pretoria. He stayed at a hotel that night and moved into a lodge the next day. There he began to study the Abdulla lawsuit. Even while he was working on it, he found time to call a meeting of the Indians in Pretoria. continued next week


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Creative Writing Contest iTribute-Multimedia Contest Poster & Coloring Contests Speech & Debate Contests Photography Contest

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Gandhi Darshan Exhibit (Clear Lake Public Library) Heroes for Peace (Houston Children Museum) A Force More Powerful Walk for Peace

Register Online!

Sunday October 7, 2012 6-8 pm Miller Outdoor Theater/ Free Admission For More Information Call 713-829-6979 or visit

Temporary Sales/ Marketing & Programming Photographer/Editor

KTRK, the ABC owned and operated station in Houston, TX has an immediate opening for a Temporary Sales/Marketing & Programming Photographer/Editor who can do it all. (Shoot/Edit/Produce). Responsibilities include working on a variety of innovative station projects. Qualified candidates must be detailed oriented with the creative knack for compelling storytelling and client messaging through sound and pictures. Must be able to work well on clients and meet deadlines. Minimum 3 years broadcast television experience required. Must have a valid driver’s license and be flexible to working any shift assigned. All interested candidates should send a video sample of your best work to be considered. For consideration, all interested applicants must apply on-line at www.disneycareers. com by uploading a resume file, cover letter and list of references. Please send work samples to: Human Resources, KTRK-TV, 3310 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77005. Please Reference Job ID: 68020BR on all materials submitted. No phone calls please, and no third parties. Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D/V.



Panel Discussion: “Year 2030 –Houston, Are We Ready?”


Expert pediatric and teen health care from a name you can trust.

Come and enjoy a Panel Discussion and learn how Greater Houston Area is preparing to meet the challenges of the projected increase in population !!! Thursday, October 18, 2012, 5:45 p.m.- 8:45 p.m. THE HESS CLUB, 5430 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77056 Panelists: . Andy Icken, Chief Development Officer, City of Houston . Leonard Waterworth, Executive Director, Port of Houston Authority . Samar Mukhopadhyay, Chief Development Officer, Houston Airport System . George Greanias, President & CEO, METRO

Texas Children’s Pediatrics Medical Center

Moderator: Sanjay Ramabhadran, P.E. Vice President, CP& Y

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Individual Tickets: Members—$40 Non-Members—$50 For Sponsorship And Tickets, Please Visit :

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Quality care with convenient access and parking in the Medical Center area.


For More Information, Please Contact: Srinivas Chintalapati @ (713) 783 8700 ext 257 Vishal H. Merchant @ (409) 225-6346


16 October 05, 2012


Guruji Shri Chandra Bhanu Satpathy Ji Enthralls Devotees in Houston

KATY, TX: Guruji Shri Chandra Bhanu Satpathyji mesmerized the audience at a gathering of devotees hosted at Mason Creek Community Center, Katy, TX by the Odisha Culture Center (OCC), Houston on September 16. The program was attended by all members of OCC, other members of Orissa Society of America along with participation of devotees from various communities in Greater Houston metro area, Dallas and Chicago. The audience joined in ceremonial prayers offered by Shree Satpathyji marking the start of the event followed by Guru Bandana by Suratha Ratha of Houston . Thereafter, Sarbeshwar Rout of Dallas sang Bhajans dedicated to Lord Jagannath and Shree Shirdi Sai Baba. Sonakshi Shree, a student of University of Houston gave a brief introduction about Guruji’s selfless service towards mankind and his accomplishments. Addressing the gathering, Guruji took the audience on a historic and spiritual journey of Odisha’s history and culture originating from Lord Jagannath. Going into details from the time of the Kingdom of Toshali, He dwelled into details of cohesion of various cultures in different periods into the Jagannath culture starting from around 2nd century BCE. Talking about Shree Jagannath temple, He said, that is one place where any one of any caste can come without any

Dr. C.B. Satpathy ji is an author, lyricist, music composer, philanthropist and spiritual guide to millions of followers of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba across the world.

differentiation or restriction and the culture of sharing food from one plate or vessel still exists. Regarding Shree Sainath Maharaj, He said that a Perfect Master (Satguru) need not be bound by a definition of any caste, creed or religion. They are much beyond these limited definitions attributed by mankind. They experience all religions, all people, all cultures as all these relative truths reside within them. Going beyond these relative truths, they stay in the realm of permanent truth. They experience everything around them as various images and handle the situations accordingly, but they do not become that (images); and because of their existence in the higher

plane, they can easily handle all this. He further added, Shree Sainath created no trust, left no heir, had no money, yet the explosion in growth of Shirdi Sai movement is because it is self-multiplier. It is not bound or dependent on anyone and self-inspired individuals or groups are building Shirdi Sai temples and institutions all around the world. An interactive question and answer session followed after Shri Satpathyji’s address. Responding to a question on national morality, Guruji clarified the meaning of nation and morality of human beings and stated that a nation is a political formation with boundaries which has no relevance with

spirituality or morality. Responding to another question on the conflict within a devotee of following one’s own family deity over Shri Shirdi Sai Baba, Guruji answered that everyone is free to follow and worship their own deities and that was the message of Shri Sainath. The root of all paths of any practice or any religion should lead to happiness of the being and people around. He also advised that one’s devotion towards Baba or one’s deity should not propel one to convince someone else to follow the same path. Everyone is free to follow their own devotional path as said by Shri Sainath. Tapan Padhi of Dallas, convener, Orissa Society of America and Suratha Ratha of Houston honored and felicitated Guruji on behalf of the society for his selfless service to humanity combined with spiritual, artistic, literary and philanthropic excellence. The program ended with vote of thanks by Hari Patro to all the guests, sponsors, volunteers and participants. The great evening came to end with distribution of Prasad to all. Dr. C.B. Satpathy ji, reverentially addressed to as “Guruji” is an author, lyricist, music composer, philanthropist and spiritual guide to millions of followers of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba across the world. His work has been pivotal in the globalization of Shirdi Sai movement with over 200 Shirdi

Sai temples in and outside of India including USA. His books in English titled “Shirdi Sai Baba and other Perfect Masters” and “May I Answer” have been translated into various Indian languages. His papers, short articles and write ups are regularly published in over a dozen periodicals every quarter in different languages. His most recent book “Shree Guru Bhagabat”, a spiritual treatise, originally written in nine letter poetic meter in Odia and translated into English and Hindi, is a four part book series, depicting the glory of the Perfect Masters, the Spiritual Masters, and the Disciples, with various divine aspects of the master disciple relationship and related topics. His music compositions have been rendered by famous Indian vocalists such as Suresh Wadkar, Shreya Ghoshal, Shaan, Kailash Kher, Shankar Mahadevan, Sukhvinder Singh, Sadhana Sargam, Rekha Bharadwaj, Mohit Chauhan, Shilpa Rao, Ajit Kadkade and others. His musical compositions have also been rendered in various albums in Odia and Telugu. His literary and music work has been recognized by famous accredited universities in India who have conferred on him degrees of Honoris Causa (D. Litt. – Vacaspati), D.Litt. and L.L.D. Well known cultural institutions of India have appreciated his service and honored him with recognitions.



“OMG: Oh My God” Conveys Serious Message about Living

BY SRIJANA MITRA DAS (TOI) Story: Atheist Kanjilal Mehta takes ‘God’ to court after an earthquake destroys his shop. Suddenly, ‘Krishna Vasudev Yadav’ shows up - does divine intervention occur? Movie Review: Straight on, OMG is Paresh Rawal’s movie - and one of his best. Akshay Kumar plays a small and sacred role but OMG is largely powered by Rawal’s performance as Kanjilal Mehta, a cynical Gujarati shopkeeper in Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar, hardcore atheist who merrily dupes the believing into buying Krishna statues before whom Kanji trills, “Kootchie kootchie, natkhat!” The atheist even disrupts a matki phoro ceremony for Krishna where, despite a cracking guest performance by Sonakshi Sinha and Prabhudeva to ‘Go-Go-GoGovinda’ - watch the latter’s buttery moves and the former’s rockchick hair - Kanjilal rains on the party. An earthquake follows, reducing just one shop to rubble - Kanjilal’s. His insurance company refuses to pay, citing an act of God. Facing ruin, Kanji takes God - as represented by ‘collection officers’, religious leaders Swami Leeladhar (Chakrabarty, super), Siddheshwar (Namdeo, hamming it up to Italian deli-level) and sexy sanyasin Mata Gopi (Poonam Jhawar) - to court demanding compensation. Goons try to kill Kanji - but ‘consultant’Krishna Vasudev Yadav saves him via a thrilling motorbike ride - then moves into his house. The trial circles deep philosophy, yet tongues stay firmly in cheek as Kanji tells the outraged swamis, “Ye mujhe kya Gita sikhayenge - inka IQ room temperature se bhi low hai.” Rawal is pure pleasure when he naughtily points out, “Recession mein toh inka dhanda double ho jata hai!”, when debating being boiled in oil down in hell, he asks, “Mein aadmi hoon ya pakora?” or, when he states that such reli-

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gion - superstition, fear, ignorance - “insaan ko bebas ya aatankwadi banata hai.” It is far better, he remarks, to donate milk to the hungry than pour it over a shrine - and into a drain, to give to the needy rather than enrich religious commerce working on human weakness and woe via ‘exchange offers’ with the divine. Rawal’s conviction is OMG’s bedrock - but its beauty comes from his dynamics with Krishna (Kumar, channeling a Twilight-like zone of motorbikes, overcoats and chiseled looks), who saves his life, educates him via sacred texts and gently instructs an annoyed housewife yelling Kanji is a nastik to eat her ice-cream before it melts. Few Bollywood actors do loopy-plus-hot as well as Kumar and he’s silken here, all delicate hints and halfsmiles, smoothly playing the flute as Kanji shouts, “O Hari Prasad! O Chaurasia!” Their chemistry is electric, Rawal wryly noting, “Suit-boot mein aya Kanhaiya”, backed by Chakrabarty too, biting into the role of a longhaired swami speaking in softly mincing tones, using his hands down to one finger in a terrific take-off. Other acting (Puri, a Muslim lawyer helping Kanji, Manjrekar as lawyer Sardesai, Lubna Salim as Kanji’s wide-eyed wife Susheela) is strictly average but covered by an astonishingly good background track pepping up the pace, adding zing but never distracting from a complex story told in a simple way. On the downside, OMG’s production values are not high-gloss and it sags and looks stagey at times. Importantly though, in a nation obsessed with taweezes and tonsures, fasts and fasaads, the symbolic over the sensible, OMG conveys a serious message this festive season - God is to be found in human beings. And, rather like Hindi films of an earlier age, it does so in a light and unusual way.


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October 05, 2012

Longer Lives, Longer Impact

Average life expectancy in India jumped up by 4.6 years in the decade up to 2008, according to the latest data released by the Registrar General of India. Since this was also the period when economic reforms had the maximum impact, it gives the lie to an idea that’s pervasive in the political domain - that reforms benefited only a tiny elite, leaving the rest of India’s population untouched (or even worse off than before, going by some highly excitable accounts). The steady improvement in life expectancy at birth of the average Indian to 66.1 years by 2008 highlights steady improvement in overall living conditions and the general success of reforms. What makes these gains more impressive are their inclusive character, with women and the rural population making more substantial gains. While women’s life expectancy improved faster to 67.7 years that of men rose more slowly to 64.6 years. This is especially significant given that life expectancy of women had lagged that of men till the early 1980s. While the overall gains indicate access to more nutritious food and health care and better hygiene, the larger improvements in the life expectancy of women indicate a faster dip in the mortality rates of the girl child. Similarly, greater life expectancy gains in the rural sector show that the benefits of higher growth were not restricted to urban areas, as many choose to believe. The life expectancy data goes against the grain of current political discourse, where anti-reform propaganda has been fuelled by imaginary worries about entry of foreign firms and greater competition in domestic markets. Political groups looking for populist causes have latched on to dubious ideas that fan suspicion about reform and place it in imagined opposition to ideals of inclusive growth. None of this is to deny that the government ought to design policies which make the benefits of reform percolate faster and deeper. The focus has to be on easing the ways of doing business and pushing up investments to enable growth to pick up. Only a substantial enlargement of the manufacturing sector base, by ushering in more flexible labour regulations and improving the supply of a skilled and trained workforce, land and quality infrastructure, can provide employment to the millions who join the workforce each year. The solution, therefore, is more reforms, not less. But the big question remains - will the political class acquiesce? Times of India

Reader Feedback

Improved Hygiene? Inclusive growth? Better nutrition? May be on paper. The ground reality is totally different with about 600-700 million of people without toilets. The current state of mothers’ mortality rate, vaccination rate, Child and infant mortality rate, availability of potable water, the mother of persoanal and public hygiene, and other current indicators demonstrate otherwise. India compared to itself has improved, but compared to prevailing international reference rates, India has too much to to do. Prem Narain, London

Do We Need a Rashtra Bhasha? BY PRITISH NANDY Last week, on my way to work, I saw an Air India hoarding proclaiming 14 September as Hindi Diwas. It was the only reminder of the fact that India still has a rashtra bhasha. I wonder how many young Indians know this. There was a time when the Government made a big deal out of Hindi Diwas. It was an occasion to assert that we must reject English and switch over to Hindi, the language that promised to bring us all together under one flag. English, it was argued, was a colonial relic and since we had removed the statues and renamed the roads, it was time to stop using the language of the British. To make this happen, the Government set up a huge department and gave it hundreds of crores. Today, decades later, English has not only grown in India, it has dug deep roots. Even the poorest Indian wants his children to study in English medium. No, it is not because we are any less nationalistic today. It is because, despite the enormous reach of Bollywood, people still want their children to speak their mother tongue at home (Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, whatever) and use English to reach out to the world. In fact, south of the Vindhyas, English is the actual unifying language, not Hindi. People there have made it amply clear they will continue to use it even if Delhi disapproves. In short, we have realised that English is not about bondage. It’s about freedom. The freedom to converse with the world as equals, to reach out to new markets, discover new things. Even the French speak English today. So do the Chinese. The Japanese held out for a while. But even they are now convinced it makes good sense to do business in English. National pride, wonderful as it may be, has nothing to do with the language of work and learning. One can be proficient in English and yet retain one’s culture, one’s heritage. If you ask people anywhere in the world to list their ten favourite authors in English today, most will name at least three of Indian origin. Instead of spurning English, we own it today. The world’s most widely read Eng-

Try as hard as it wants, no Government can force its will on its citizens. Government has shown wisdom and quietly backed off. If we can do this with something as sensitive as language, I am sure we can show the same wisdom in issues relating to caste, region. and religion. lish newspaper is Indian. The second most widely read financial paper in English is also Indian. As the Government remains paralysed by its paranoia of social media, more and more young Indians are using English apps for news, business, healthcare, markets. Governance will soon become language agnostic. English is the only language that can see you through the entire region. The moral of the story is: A young nation must make its own choices. Try as hard as it wants, no Government can force its will on its citizens. The time for the Papa State is over. Young India wants to take its own calls and this is one example where the Government has shown wisdom and quietly backed off. If we can do this with something as sensitive as language, I am sure we can show the same wisdom in issues relating to caste, region and religion. Instead of using a heavy hand, if the State occasionally steps back and allows the will of the people to prevail, I am sure many of our conflicts will disappear. Do we really need to call VT station by another name? Will a Hill Council in Darjeeling change the lives of people? Will carving Telengana out of Andhra really make a difference to the lives of people there? Instead of all these reservations, why not let young Indians learn the importance of merit? Let’s chuck the tired clichés about social engineering. Let’s discover a new political lexicon. This could be the best reforms. To finally build an India that leaves behind its old animosities, its old prejudices to seek a new future. We cannot right every historical wrong

but we can certainly forget them and move on. ToI

Reader Feedback

Yes, my eleventh standard son many times claims that he is a better and proficient englo-knowledgable person as compared to me, who studied at that standard more than 40 years back. I simply enjoy the glowing face of his and admit it, as facilities were lacking for any middle class fellow during those days. So, we were Hindi bhasi although Prabashi Bangali. We were stressed by our parents to talk in mother tongue at least at home, otherwise searching for a Bengali bride could have been difficult. Now my son does not have that fear, nor he is bothered for any language as a dictate. Sometimes back I had a situation were an Andhraite teaching faculty fellow did not accept that Hindi is India’s Rashtra Bhasha. Many South Indians I met, hardly could speak a single Hindi word. Some even felt proud of the fact that they do not know Rashtra Bhasha. Vice-versa, I faced quite a few situation during my postings in southern state, where I was expected to know the regional language more than the official language of the central government establishments. Local staff would fight in their regional language in my room and then complaint I was inactive. Problem is many with the language, but some how in recent times spreading of glabalization and more interestingly benefits out of such thinking has made English a well accepted language in India. Every student feels knowing English is advantageous. Still, a lot to be done for rural sectors. Therefore a wide gap has been created in the youths of the respective sectors and rural students are trying to migrate to unban places as per their capacities, putting enormous load to urbanisation. Young minds not finding it eassy, regionalising the concepts and knowledge at par with their oppurtunities and success, forcing manipulation of instituttional structures. Question is how far English is to be propagated amid less than 50% literacy and poor English standard in primary and secondary level. S. Banerjee, New Delhi


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Colorful Ganesh Procession in Houston

Organized by Shiv Shakti Mandir & Masala Radio

HOUSTON: Why does Ganesh have only one tusk?. Ganesha was asked to scribe down the epic of Mahabharata, dictated to him by its author, sage Vyasa. Taking into note the enormity and significance of the task, Ganesha realized the inadequacy of any ordinary ‘pen’ to undertake the task. He thus broke one of his own tusks and made a pen out of it. These and hundreds of stories have delighted the hearts of Houstonian Ganesh bhakts celebrating Mumbaistyle Ganesh Visarjan on Hilcroft on Saturday, September 29.

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Ganpathi Visarjan (immersion) is the ending ceremony of the 10-day Ganeshotsav. At the end of the ten days, devotees submerge Ganesha’s clay idols into water. This past Saturday, the 10 foot tall Ganesh idol presided at the head of the procession led by Virat Mehta (or Virat Maharaj as he is affectionately called) that commenced at the new Sanatan Shiv Shakti Mandir on Harwin, and made its way to the covered parking area at the Plaza at Hilcroft and Harwin. “This is my faith, I am also a Ganesh bhakt, and I rejoice in this opportunity to serve the people.” said Harry Saini, the Plaza owner. Sporting bright orange sashes around their necks or around their heads, the Ganesh devotees danced on the streets and in the rain shouting Ganpathi Bapa Moraya, Pudhchya Varsi Lovkar ya! (“Oh Ganpathi My Lord, Return Soon Next Year”). DJ Zee rocked the event with a mix of Ganesh devotional songs he customed with fast dance beats, Bollywood Ganesh tributes like “Moriya Re” from Don and “Deva Shree Ganesha” from Agneepath, Bollywood Songs, and even some Gujarati garba. The Masala Crew hyped the crowd dancing in their colorful chania cholis amid constant blasts of bright colored confetti. The crowd witnessed the energetic dancing by Masala Radio’s lead host Sunil Thakkar on top of the Hummer and upon reaching the cov-

ered Festival site, enjoyed free refreshments from generous local businesses: Free Vada Pav from Sanjay Shah of Swagat Foods, free Idli Sambhar from Satish Rao of Udipi Café Hilcroft, free Deep Juices in Green Mango, Lychee, Mango, and Guava from Umang Parikh of Deep Foods, and chilled water by Malik Jamal of Tara Energy. After the final Maha Aarti, followproceeded to Madras Pavilion in Sugar Land for the final Visarjan. Jigna Patel, who came with her daughter, thought the Visarjan itself was auspicious and heavenly to watch. Nearly 100 moorthi, from a few inches tall to the giant Siddhi Vinayak clay deity from Shiv Shakti Mandir, were taken on guests heads to the edge of the river, where Sunil Thakkar, Dilip Kanabar (of Masala Radio’s Gaatha Rahe Mera Dil), Ninad Gupte and a few more brave devotees climbed into the waters and submerged the idols into water. We heard a very positive feedback from the guests, said event coordinator Amisha Desai. For those few hours, devotees felt like they were back in Mumbai, she added.

Houston’s American Completion Tools Acquires Contract from Aker Solutions

President,Drilling Products Division. American Completion Tools is a manufacturer of wireline and interventional products.Parveen Industries, India is an API,CE and DNV certified manufacturer of gate valves,flow products,flanges,gas lift valves,well head,spools and blocks,choke valves, manifolds and wireline bops. Parveen Industries have seven plants in T.J.Sinha,General Manager, American Com- India and one plant in pletion Tools Inc. (left) with Pal Eriksen,Vice Burleson, TX and has President,Drilling Products Division, Aker a client base which inSolutions cludes all the major well service companies and Products Div, Houston) by Aker drilling contractors with its own inSolutions,Norway. The project in- house forging and foundry for better control of quality and delivery. volved were ju-2000 and cat-d. P.Kumar, Director of Parveen InT.J.Sinha,General Manager, American Completion Tools Inc., dustries is very optimistic on the was recently in Norway to discuss European market and has set up future co-operation between the two distributors/stocking agents to better companies with Pal Eriksen,Vice serve this dynamic market. HOUSTON: American Completion Tools Inc. (subsidiary of Parveen Industries,India) was recently awarded a contract (Flow

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Filmmaker Sets Focus Very Close to Home BY TOM ROSTON HARIDWAR (NYT): Understanding one’s parents might be as difficult as fathoming the cosmos, but it’s something most of us try to do, in one way or another. Doing this through the lens of a camera for a documentary film, as a number of children of famous parents have in works like “My Architect,” by the son of Louis Kahn; “William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe,” by the radical lawyer’s two daughters; and “The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby,” by Carl Colby, can be an effective, if grandiose method. It allows the filmmaker to use the tried-and-true tools of the profession while also making a very public statement. “What the camera did for me was give me added courage,” said Celia Maysles, who made “Wild Blue Yonder” about her documentary pioneer father, David Maysles. “It gave me an excuse to prod a little deeper than I might have because it was ‘for the film.’ ” Gotham Chopra, the son of the selfhelp star Deepak Chopra, took a similar journey with the release of “Decoding Deepak.” Gotham Chopra said, “To to do this project privately, I wouldn’t get the same material or the insights that I did.” The film captures “who he really is because you can’t separate him from the public,” he added. “He has a need to be a part of the public conversation.” Variety called the film “neither hagiography nor hatchet job,” as it takes frequent shots at Deepak Chopra for caring about matters like the success of his books (66 so far). “Buddha was a narcissist, wasn’t he?” said his son (who changed his name from Gautam). “It was all about him reconciling his own inner demons. Narcissism is the great contradiction of my dad and the great paradox of spirituality, of which he is an icon.” The same, it appears, may also apply to the sons of icons. In the documentary, Chopra follows his peripatetic father around the world, from speeches to his ordainment as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, as they engage in deep conversations about consciousness and playful banter about the parent’s devotion to his Blackberry. Gotham Chopra didn’t want to create a “puff piece,” he said, even if it provided fodder for his father’s detractors, like Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, who has called him a pinhead. “The easiest way out was to say, ‘yes,’ ” Deepak Chopra, 65, said of the film, as he sat in his small, airy office in Deepak Home Base, a studio tucked in the downtown furniture store ABC Carpet & Home. “It was also an excuse to hang out with him,” he added, looking brightly at his 37year-old son. The seeds of inspiration were sown when Gotham Chopra — a journalist and author who has developed new-media ventures — worked for Al Gore on what would become Current TV. “Here was a guy who had a hard

A still, set in Haridwar, India, from Gotham Chopra’s documentary, about his father. Photo: Andy Schocken

Deepak Chopra’s son makes him a documentary subject. time getting people to find him appealing,” said Chopra, who witnessed how the global-warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” changed perceptions of the former vice president. “And then here’s this thing that he’s so passionate about that made him likable. That movie reconciles the two. I wanted to do something similar with the popular impression of my father and the person who I think he is.” In “Decoding Deepak,” Chopra charts his father’s rise from Indian immigrant to successful Boston doctor, on to apostle for the Transcendental Meditation movement and now best-selling pop spiritualist, thanks to his introduction to the mainstream by Oprah Winfrey in 1993. The ordainment trip sets up a question central to the film: how can Deepak Chopra be detached in a spiritual sense and yet lead a comfortable life with a need for constant attention? And his son readily conceded that similar questions could be posed about him. “There’s definitely narcissism in making a film like this,” he said in a follow-up phone call. “I am still trying to figure things like that out.” “There’s an arc to this movie that starts cynical,” Gotham Chopra said back in the studio. It ends with an appreciation for this,” he said, indicating his father’s office — and by extension the whole Deepak Nation — by pressing his fingertips together and parting them as if releasing pixie dust, a gesture that could be sincere or gently mocking. The filmmaker’s sister, Mallika, who like her brother lives in Los Angeles, said by phone that although the family deeply respects her father, she was concerned that the film “could have ended in disaster.” “My dad has a big personality and my brother

rolls his eyes more than I do. But, in the end, it enhanced his respect for him.” In the film, Gotham Chopra asks his father how important his family is to him. “The only people I am really attached to are my grandchildren,” he replies. The younger Chopra, who has a 5-year-old son with his wife, Candice S. Chen, an ophthalmologist, merely smiles in response. “People bring that up,” Gotham Chopra said. “It’s funny because it didn’t feel like an emotional moment for me.” “But I can explain it,” his father said, quickly. “It’s a very philosophical thing. You love your children best when you are not attached.” “Even your mother agrees, O.K.?” he added. Both work on a constant flow of projects. Deepak Chopra has three books coming out, and his son is expanding his comic book company and producing the Chopra Well, a YouTube channel. “I am restless,” Gotham Chopra said. “Like him, actually.” His father, laughing, said: “Come on, I just came out of a week of silence — contemplating my own death,”(he was referring to a meditation retreat). “I am not restless.” “You’re restless to communicate,” Gotham Chopra retorted. “Maybe,” his father said softly. “By tonight, this conversation, it’ll all be a dream.” It’s a profound and charming pronouncement but also slightly stupefying, the sort of thing that must have frustrated a son trying to make a documentary. “He’s detached, and I mean that in a complimentary way,” Gotham Chopra said. “I realized I had to be the character with the arc by virtue of who he is.” In “Decoding Deepak,” Chopra completes that arc by focusing on himself and his greatest passion: his son, Krishu. “Having a child has prompted a new sense of self-security,” he said. “Now, I am not out to prove that I am Deepak 2.0.”

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October 05, 2012

For India’s Children, Philanthropy Isn’t Enough. Need Action

BY SONIA FALEIRO (NYT) Meena Devi is only 10 years old, but she’s the head of her household. She cooks, cleans and takes care of her 11-year-old brother, Sunil, while a 14-year-old brother, Anil, works at a faraway brick kiln in a neighboring state. The three have been orphans since their mother died of starvation three years ago. They have an aunt in their village, but the most she’s ever done is send over food to their mud hut. In June, I wrote an article that appeared in The International Herald Tribune, documenting this family’s daily life in the impoverished eastern state of Bihar. E-mails started to pour in the next morning. One was from a record producer in Los Angeles. He grew up in modest circumstances, and told me that he saw himself in Meena. He offered to pay all three children’s education and living expenses until they turned 18, an amount equal to $1,200 per year. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. Why, then, did the children’s relatives refuse to let them take it? Unlike the other scruffy village children, Meena made an effort to stay presentable. She was soft-spoken and polite; she slicked down her bob with spit and kept her face clean. Perhaps this adult inclination was a natural extension of her adult

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Unicef, now has more child laborers economic lot improves, the Manjhis under 14 than any other country. will keep sending him to work at the What’s most galling about this cor- brick kiln. Sunil will most likely soon rupt behavior is the fact that the join him. A worse fate awaits Meena. current government is making an Traffickers masquerading as eligible unprecedented effort to confront pov- grooms routinely trick poor families erty. In 2011, according to a World into parting with their daughters, Bank report, India spent over 2 per- often before puberty. The families cent of its gross domestic product on succumb because there’s no demand poverty alleviation. Over the past 11 for dowry or wedding expenses. New years, India’s government has sought brides are whisked away and sold into to provide free midday school meals, bonded labor or to brothels, where A child’s height was measured after he was rescued from a guarantee of 100 days of employ- they’re raped into submission. They garment factory labor in New Delhi in June. Photo: Kevin Frayer/AP ment annually to the rural poor and almost never return home. There are thousands of Meenas responsibilities. common. I’ve met many children free primary education. But endemic I’d been introduced to Meena by who attempted to run away, prefer- corruption, from the very top down in Bihar and millions of Meenas in Mokhtarul Haque, an activist with ring to take their chances on the street. to the ground level, prevents them India. Individuals, nonprofits and India’s Save the Childhood Move- But after initially accepting Haque’s from being implemented effectively. charities can’t be expected to step in ment, known by its Hindi abbrevia- offer, the Manjhis quickly changed A lack of transparency and a leakage to save them all from tragedy. India’s deafening aspirations to tion B.B.A. The B.B.A. has rescued their minds, insisting they were ca- of subsidies to the nonpoor means that poverty isn’t falling nearly as fast global power will never be realized and rehabilitated trafficked children pable of looking after the children. for over 25 years. Haque had met Never mind that Meena and Sunil as it should be. The free hot meal is if the potential of these millions of with Meena’s only surviving relative, were perpetually hungry and slept the reason Meena goes to school. But children continues to be squandered. The government must move beher aunt Savitri Devi Manjhi, soon without even a piece of cloth to sepa- her teachers routinely skip school, after Meena’s mother died in 2009, rate their bodies from the hut’s dirt three days a week. When teachers yond merely developing ambitious and Manjhi had then urged Haque floor. Or that the Manjhis trafficked don’t come, the school stays shut, policies — it must also ensure that to place the children in a government him at age 11 into a dangerous brick and there’s no meal. A well-funded, these policies aren’t corrupted. There foster home. In June, following the kiln soon after his mother died. (In well-intentioned program created to must be stern reprisals for graft and record producer’s proposal, Haque India, children under 14 are permitted educate and feed poor children fails dereliction of duty. And it must be offered the children spots in a B.B.A. to work, but not in hazardous envi- on both counts: Meena not only learns worthwhile for poor people to do the right thing; they should be rewardschool. ronments. An amendment to India’s nothing, she also goes hungry. But it’s the Manjhis’ choices that ed for good behavior. Prosecution The B.B.A., like other nonprofit child labor laws, proposed in August, groups, built its own schools partly in would ban children under 14 from have had the greatest impact on Mee- of child-labor traffickers and their na.And these, too, were influenced by henchmen must be accelerated. And response to the sorry state of govern- working anywhere.) ment foster homes, where corporal The Manjhis are the product of government failings. The low-caste India needs to overhaul its system of punishment is routine and abuse is intergenerational poverty and caste- residents of Meena’s village work the state-run foster homes so that children based marginalization. Like their par- land of their upper-caste neighbors, don’t avoid them out of fear. Only if real change occurs at the ents, they’re poor, illiterate and sea- who pay them in grain. To earn cash, sonally employed. They don’t think entire families find supplemental top will those at the bottom accept beyond their daily survival. They’re work in one of the state’s many brick a stake in their community’s future. also aware that no matter how bad kilns, but they don’t earn enough to As long as Mrs. Manjhi is hungry, she’ll do everything in her power to life gets for them, public assistance is feed themselves adequately. The government’s Public Distribu- stay alive — including sending her unlikely, and change is an impossible dream. They know they have no one tion System, which offers subsidized younger relatives to work. But if she to depend on but themselves and their food and fuel, should cover them. were to receive real support from the younger kin. They may have empa- But in 2011 less than 10 percent of government, that wasn’t funneled thy for their niece and nephews, but the grain intended for Bihar’s poor away by corrupt middlemen, she actually reached them. The rest was would not need to send Anil to work, they can’t afford to act on it. In a society with few effective sold on the black market, bought and she would be likely to resist the regulatory institutions, there’s neither by wealthier people with fake food temptation to earn extra cash illegally, an incentive to take responsibility nor ration cards or, worst of all, sold at a for fear of losing state benefits. Meena and her brothers now have repercussions for not doing so. People markup to the very people meant to a firm offer to live at a good school. don’t do the right thing because it’s receive discounted grain. Government inefficiency has left This should be their happy ending. easy not to, and there’s no reward for doing it. Villagers are preoccupied the Manjhis poor and hungry, so they But it isn’t. If a child who has so with their own daily survival. And it’s have taken control of 14-year-old many people fighting on her behalf Anil’s earnings. His salary of less than can’t be assured justice, the millions easier for bureaucrats to do nothing. ain $1 a day is paltry even by Indian of other children with no such allies A lack of accountability not only ExploreExplore the world theinworld comfort comfort with... with... kills motivation, it encourages out- standards. But for the Manjhis, it have little hope. The good will of "#$%&'$%(&) #,&#$-.'/#(&)0#()'$$)1'2#() right malfeasance. In India’s poorest was still too much to risk losing. And 1,000 record producers in Los Ange) "#$%&'$%(&)districts,#,&#$-.'/#(&)0#()'$$)1'2#() easily bribed police officers so they refused to let Anil and his les won’t change that. Only the Indian enable trafficking. India, according to siblings leave for school. Unless their government can. '-($-,%& the ) Explore world in comfort with...



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What’s the Special Talent You Have? Find Your Answers! BY PRAKASH IYER (Careers 360) It’s always fascinating to hear stories of successful people – and how they got there. These stories can be hugely inspiring, and often hold a lesson that can change the course of our lives. Heard of Gillian Lynne, British ballerina and dancer, and one of the world’s leading choreographers? She has been associated with some of the biggest hits on Broadway, including Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Widely respected, she is a multi-millionaire, too. Sir Ken Robinson, a leading authority on education and creativity – and an outstanding speaker – loves to tell the story of Gillian Lynne. It’s a story you must hear. When Gillian was eight, her mother received a letter from her school teacher, complaining about her daughter’s behaviour in school. The teacher said Gillian was fidgety, unable to sit in one place or concentrate, and distracting her classmates, too. She was late in submitting her homework, and her handwriting was terrible. “I suspect she has a learning disorder,” concluded the teacher, and advised the parents to move their daughter to a special school. Worried, the mother decided to take Gillian to a psychologist to better understand the problem and the possible cure. Little Gillian sat nervously in the psychologist’s chamber as he spoke to her mother. He looked at her intermittently,

“Maybe what we all need is someone like that psychologist who can spot the real talent inside us”

At the age of eight, Gillian Lynne’s teacher suspected her of having a learning disorder. But a kind psychologist changed her life forever... watching the expression on her face, and her little legs dangling from the chair. After about twenty minutes, he told Gillian he wanted to have a little personal chat with her mother, and they would both be back in just a bit. And as he was leaving he turned on a radio that was on his desk. As soon as the door shut, little Gillian jumped to her feet and began to dance to the music playing on the radio. There was a look of pure joy on her face as she swayed gracefully. Standing out-

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Gillian Barbara Lynne, is the choreographer of Cats musical and the famous Phantom of the Opera. © Lean Two Productions

side near a window, the psychologist asked Gillian’s mother to look at what her daughter was doing. And they were both amazed to see little Gillian dancing away. “She is not sick,” said the psychologist. “She is a dancer. Send her to a dance school.” Lucky for Gillian, her mother heeded the advice. And the rest, as they say, is history. She went to dance school and from there to the Royal Ballet School in London. She went on to become one of the world’s greatest dancers and choreographers – a woman who brought joy to audiences around the world. Thanks perhaps to a kind psychologist, who could see the ballerina hidden inside the fidgety eight-year-old. He could have probably put her on a course of medicines to make her less fidgety, or sent her off to a special school. But he saw the genius trapped inside that little body and decided to help set it free. We all get measured by identical, almost archaic academic yardsticks in school. A measure that only recognises our ability to read, add some numbers, learn by rote and score high marks. Failing to do that marks little children out as failures. It marks them out as people who are well, not quite good enough. Which is both unfair, and incorrect. What’s the special talent you have that’s uniquely yours? What would you like to do for the rest of your life? Finding those answers – and then working hard following that dream – can possibly ensure your best chance to achieve greatness. Maybe what we all need is someone like that psychologist. We need a teacher, or a parent, who can spot the real talent inside us. Someone who turns on the radio and lets the music play. And unleashes the genius within! Prakash Iyer is MD, KimberlyClark Lever and Executive Coach. For more inspiring life lessons, read Mr Iyer’s new book The Habit of Winning.

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OPINION Less for More in Life

BY SIDIN VADUKUT spreadsheet from, (Mint) Have you been suffering While we always want I punched in the salary details from from low cubicle self-esteem lately? as much as we can get, the break-up, calculated approxiFeeling crushed and demotivated mate tax deductions and take-home by struggling to make ends meet we are capable of coping amount, and I conveyed the same to each month? Often feel like giving it with a lot less than we my friend. But as if I had done it all all up, packing your meagre things, already have mentally. retiring to a low-rent one-bedroom It was a significant amount of monapartment somewhere in Matheran, month.” ey each month. Almost six figures in and becoming a writer of semi-erotic I was mentally prepared for some our Indian money. fiction novels targeted at middle-aged minuscule figure. But the reality of Yet, my friend sounded most diswomen? it was still… unsettling. With these traught. “Do you think this is good We’ve all been there. We’ve all means—and they’d lost almost all of enough? Should I ask for more? I done that. their savings and land when they fled mean, I will get at least four or five But recently I’ve discovered some- from Renala Khurd, around 110km lakhs in bonus this year if I stay here thing else that may be of some thera- from Lahore, in Pakistan—they man- without moving. They should adjust peutic value: ask your elderly rela- aged to educate several children, build for that also, no? The thieves!” tives what they were once paid for a a small house in Chandigarh and then And all the while I was thinking: living. Chances are that your pittance get all those strapping Punjabi lads Bloody malcontent fellow! Someof a pay package will seem Jindal-like and lasses married off well. body should bundle you into a truck, in comparison. How Beegee, I implored, how drive you to Renala Khurd, and throw Earlier this week, I was in Chan- did you cope with just 118 bucks a you out with nothing in your posdigarh to meet some extended fam- month? What did you spend it on? session except the clothes on your ily on the missus’ side. The missus’ “Ah ah ah ah,” Beegee chuckled back, Rs.118 in your pocket and a octogenarian grandmother has been large sticker on your back that says ill lately. Usually, “American Filma pocket dynamo maker”. of a person, she is But, of course, my now spending infriend is only being creasing amounts utterly professional of time in bed. Evabout compensaeryone is getting tion. And justifiably quite concerned. so. I wouldn’t work So, I decided to for free. And neither lure her out of bed should you. I would with some convernever, ever tell you sation. “Tell me to dismiss the topic Beegee (grandof compensation as mother),” I said, an irrelevance. nudging her into However, talking the courtyard for an to some veterans evening walk, “tell Ask your elderly relatives what they were once paid for a does help put some me stories about living. Chances are that your pittance of a pay package will of our daily crises Pakistan. How was seem Jindal-like in comparison. Photo: Mint in perspectives. If it during the partinothing else it gave tion…” me the notion that toothlessly, “ah ah ah. Staying alive Beegee, who had been subdued bete. Staying alive.” while we always want as much as since running a light fever on SaturLater that night, after her walk, she we can get, we are capable of coping day night, suddenly roared into ac- was lying in bed thinking quietly. And with a lot less than we already have. tion. More than a woman, this one. then she turned to me. “My husband, So life is not all bad, is it? Suddenly she was standing on her before he died, used to lie there and And if even this talk-to-pensioners own, refusing to lean on anyone, wonder. He used to say: ‘How did we approach brings you no succour, then looking into the Chandigarh sky in build this house? How did we manage there is still one sliver of hope. the distance and recounting tales, all this?’ Twenty or 25 years from now, many of them quite moving, of beTwo days later I got a frantic phone when you’re sitting at home with ing smuggled across the border in call from a friend. your wonderful, Ikea-visiting, Startrucks and being fed by a series of “Listen I’ve sent you a salary break- bucks-drinking grandchildren, you gurudwaras on both sides of the up. New job. Can you quickly see if can tell them that once upon a time, in border before she and her husband it makes sense? How much will the the past, when cars still ran on petrol, eventually moved into the basement take home be?” and when Apple was still a popular of a cinema hall in Shimla. I immediately did what any self- brand, you once had to make ends “You know how much salary he respecting cubiclist in India does meet with just Rs.36 lakh per annum. used to make when he joined UCO when faced with a such a dilemma: I As the kids faint in awe, you can revel Bank?” Beegee asked. “Rs.118 a downloaded the latest tax calculator in the glory.

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Vijay Mallya: The King of Good Times Dismantles His Empire

BY HEATHER TIMMONS & NEHA THIRANI NEW DELHI (NYT): Suddenly, everything in the sprawling empire of Vijay Mallya seems to be up for sale. Mallya took over a sleepy family business when he was 27 and reinvented it in his own image, forming a jet-setting, luxury-loving, consumerfriendly group of companies called the UB Group. Yet in a period of a few days, he seems ready to sell it off piece by piece. On Wednesday, September 26, before the company’s annual meeting, Mallya said Kingfisher Airlines was in talks with foreign carriers about a stake sale. He declined to be more specific. The airline has not made a profit since it started in 2005, is late on payments for about 70 billion rupees, or $1.3 billion, in bank loans, and has not paid most of its workers for months. “This is a difficult thing to digest,” said Sharan Lillaney, an analyst at Angel Broking. “Mallya will have to relinquish his crown jewel.” Just a day earlier, Mallya’s liquor company, United Spirits, said it was in talks with the beverage giant Diageo about a stake sale. Any deal is expected to dilute Mallya’s 28 percent stake in United Spirits substantially, to the point where he has little or no control over the business. His company’s less glamorous businesses fertilizers and engineering are also looking for potential investors or acquirers, analysts and bankers said. Those deals, too, are expected to leave Mallya without control. The airline has been the biggest burden on the company’s operations, as its executives seemed willing to practically gamble away the health of the group’s other businesses, which were used as collateral for bank loans to the airline. Now Mallya needs to

ago, airlines from the Middle East, Asia and Europe were considered likely acquirers in the Indian market, but Kingfisher will not attract them now because of its financial issues, analysts said Wednesday. “I don’t think any clear deal will

go through for Kingfisher because the airline is in very bad shape and the aviation business globally is in bad shape,” said A. K. Prabhakar, the senior vice president for equity research at Anand Rathi Financial Services in Mumbai.

Starbucks to Open First India Outlet in Mumbai

Vijay Mallya, co-owner of the Indian Premier League team Bangalore Royal Challengers, left, with Lalit Modi, former chairman of the Indian Premier League, in a 2009 file photo.

raise cash to pay off those debts. Losing control of the businesses he carefully shaped would be a sharp change for a man who was regularly featured on Forbes’s billionaires list; who collected expensive cars and sponsored a Formula One racing team; and whose parties, in Mumbai and at his Goa seaside home, were regularly attended by prominent Bollywood stars and some of India’s most powerful politicians. Mallya’s airline, which seems to be modeled loosely on Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways, has featured red-suited flight attendants, a generous frequent-flier program and, at least when it started, highquality food. Mallya impressed the Paris Air Show in 2007, ordering 50 Airbus planes and promising an overseas expansion to the United States and Europe. But by 2009, he had to take on bank loans to finance the airline and postponed deliveries of new planes.

Instead of flying to Paris or San Francisco, the airline’s new international destination was Dhaka, Bangladesh. Now the company no longer flies internationally, lists just 12 planes on its corporate Web site, down from more than 70, and has cut its domestic flights drastically. Even in 2009, Mallya was looking for a deal. “We are in discussion with private equity investors,” Mallya said in June that year. “Certain airlines have shown keen interest as well, subject to the government policy allowing them to invest.” Profitability has eluded most private carriers in India, where the heavily subsidized state carrier, Air India, skews the playing field and competition is stiff for new passengers from the country’s growing upper-middle class. The Indian government said this month that it would allow foreign airlines to purchase 49 percent of Indian carriers, but the change may have come too late. A few years

Tata Starbucks will open the outlet at Horniman Circle in downtown Mumbai by the end of October. Photo: AFP

BY SUNEERA TANDON NEW DELHI (Mint): US coffee chain Starbucks will open it’s first store in India in Mumbai by the end of October, the company said in a press release. Tata Starbucks Ltd, the equally owned joint venture between Starbucks Corp. and Tata Global Beverages Ltd, will open the outlet at Horniman Circle in downtown Mumbai. The company also named Avani Saglani Davda as CEO. Associated with the Tata group for more than a decade, Davda worked in the vicechairman’s office at Tata Global Beverages, where she was responsible for

marketing and business development among other responsibilities. The store will be the first to feature espresso sourced and roasted locally from India through the agreement with Tata Coffee Ltd. In January, the company announced it will launch 30-50 outlets in India in 2012 with an initial investment of Rs.400 crore to be split equally. The first few retail outlets will be launched in Mumbai and New Delhi, followed by other major cities, the company said at the time. Starbucks had 17,651 stores across the world as of 1 July, according to the company’s financial statement.





October 05, 2012

India Wins, But Gets Knocked Out

COLOMBO (ESPN Cricinfo): India 152 for 6 (Raina 45, Peterson 2-25, M Morkel 2-28) beat South Africa 151 (Du Plessis 65, Zaheer 3-22, Yuvraj 2-23) South Africa have had a few of their parties cruelly crashed by teams world over, but today they spoiled India’s when it was only a small gathering. Having been knocked out of the World Twenty20 because Pakistan beat Australia, South Africa won the toss India wanted to win most, kept India down to 152, and passed 121, ensuring India would be eliminated from the tournament on net run rate. India would have loved to chase and know what they needed to do with the bat to push their net run rate of -0.452 over Pakistan’s 0.273, who are now through to the semi-final. However, batting first, all India could hope of doing was set up a huge total and try to win by a margin of around 30. South Africa’s bowling, though, was too strong to clobber. It was not all fun and games for South Africa either. Faf du Plessis laid bare the flaws in their strategy in the games leading up to their final inconsequential match. Watching du Plessis score a fluent 65 off 38, South Africa’s think tank would have felt a surge of mixed emotions. After du Plessis got out, all but ensuring India’s ouster, that think tank would have watched in horror as the last five wickets fell for 24 runs and

South Africa lost by one run. Another heartbreaking loss ended arguably their worst campaign at a World Cup, across formats. It was Gary Kirsten’s ninth defeat in nine matches as coach in World Twenty20 Super Eights. The scenes towards the end were in contrast to the ones seen after the day’s first match at the venue. After that game, both Australia - assured of semi-final qualification - and Pakistan - very close to it - went off smiling, never mind the actual result. Both India and South Africa were dejected, never mind the result. After their innings, however, India had given themselves a decent chance of staying alive, thanks to a Suresh Raina-led recovery from 36 for 3. Around Raina, Yuvraj Singh hit 21 off 15 in the middle overs to boost India, and the finishing touches were provided by MS Dhoni, who squeezed out an unbeaten 23 off 13 in his unorthodox way. India’s openers looked too keen to hit, and fell inside the Powerplay. Morne Morkel’s disconcerting length got Gautam Gambhir to play on. Virender Sehwag hit Robin Peterson for a six, but swung all around an even slower delivery to lose his off stump the next ball. In between those wickets, Virat Kohli was dismissed, strangled down the leg side by Jacques Kallis. Yuvraj then displayed the silken touch he had before he left the game

with illness, lofting two of the bettertimed sixes. He got too ambitious, though, trying to whip a full Morkel delivery from the off-stump line and was bowled. Rohit Sharma once again scored a disappointing 25 off 27 before falling lbw to a poor sweep. Raina, though, looked good right from the start, and played goodlooking extra-cover drives to give India some momentum. Dhoni joined him with brute power, and the two combined to take an even 40 off the last four overs. Given the way their spinners have performed in the tournament, India would have entertained thoughts of the improbable, but they bowled six overs of seam at the top of the innings. They took two early wickets when South Africa were tentative, but once the industrious du Plessis began charging at Zaheer and Irfan, the zing was lost. Yuvraj revived India’s hopes with a wicket first ball, but du Plessis was batting on a different plane. Every shot he played seemed to yield results, and the odd mis-hit would find a way to go for couples. India’s fielding didn’t help. The collapse arrived, but it was too late for India. In the 17th over, with wickets falling, South Africa reached 122, much to the joy of the thousands of Pakistan supporters in the ground. The game took a surreal turn after that. So close run it was, yet so devoid of edge.

Pak in Semis After Win

COLOMBO: Pakistan 149 for 6 (Jamshed 55, Starc 3-20) beat Australia 117 for 7 (Hussey 54*, Ajmal 3-17) by 32 runs. Pakistan spun a web around Australia’s batsmen and a few hours later could celebrate it being enough to secure qualification for the World Twenty20 semi-finals. Though sobered by defeat, the Australians managed to reach the 112 they required to make their qualification for the semis a certainty, while the result also ensured that South Africa were knocked out, regardless of what happened in their final Super Eights match against India. The 32-run margin to Pakistan meant that India had to win by a wide margin against South Africa in order to elbow their way past Mohammad Hafeez’s team into a semi-final spot. Such a scenario would have been undeserved by Raza Hasan and Saeed Ajmal in particular, who tied Australia in the kinds of knots previously unseen at this tournament. Australia’s first loss of the tournament reopened their former doubts

when confronted by quality spin on a slow, turning pitch, and also demonstrated the chaos that can ensue if Shane Watson and David Warner do not give the innings a rapid start Pakistan did not use a paceman until the 18th over of the innings, and other nations can be expected to use similar tactics against Australia In the end it took a half century of considerable composure from Michael Hussey to ensure Australia’s qualification. Pakistan, the 2009 winners, will take on Sri Lanka in Thursday’s first semi-final at Colombo’s Premadasa stadium, while Australia clash with the West Indies on Friday at the same venue. The final will be played on Sunday. Pakistan’s prolific spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed 3-17, but it was 20year-old Raza Hasan who was declared man of the match for conceding just 14 runs and taking two wickets in four overs. Pakistan’s innings revolved around left-hander Nasir Jamshed’s 55 off 46 balls, which contained four boundaries and two sixes.

TCC Conducts Kids Cricket Camp

HOUSTON: Triggers Cricket Club (TCC) conducted a cricket camp for kids in the age group of 8-15 years at Matzke Park, the home ground of TCC. The camp was spread over five weeks starting from August 25. The final session was conducted on September 22. The camp was attended by more than 25 kids from all over Houston and was a great learning experience for the kids. The camp was coordinated by Surya Saladi, board member of TCC and the coaching team consisted of Girish Kamthe (Head coach) supported by Anand Sampath, Anand Krishnan, Venkata Narsimu, Jeeva Chinnuswamy and Sunil Menon. Other than the main coaching team, the effort was supported by other

TCC team members on a rotational basis. Parents also volunteered to support the coaching team. The closing ceremony was attended by Nanda Kumar, the president of TCC and HCL (Houston Cricket League). He mentioned that TCC plans to conduct similar camps in future and thanked members of TCC organization for their efforts and parents for the interest shown and the volunteering done. HCL is planning to conduct a tournament for kids in which TCC plans to participate with interested kids who attended the camp. Parents thanked TCC for taking the initiative. For more information, visit http://!/groups/tcccolts/


October 05, 2012


Anjali Damania: The Lady Who Dug Up an Irrigation Scam BY MAKARAND GADGIL MUMBAI (Mint) In May last year, Anjali Damania, a pathologist, mother of two, and land-owner, received a notice from the government seeking to acquire 30 acres she owned in Kondhane village in Karjat taluka of Raigad district for a dam. That was the 42-year-old’s introduction to the murky world of politicians, bureaucrats and contractors. Today, Damania is making headlines as a whistleblower, having added a twist to the ongoing tale of state deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s resignation over allegations of corruption and favouritism in awarding contracts for irrigation projects. Pawar is part of the Nationalist Congress Party, which, along with the Congress, rules the state. The Congress’ Prithviraj Chavan is the chief minister. Damania has alleged that Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari colluded with union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar to suppress the alleged irregularities related to irrigation projects. In a press conference in Mumbai, she claimed that when she had approached Gadkari to help her to expose corruption in the irrigation department, Gadkari had bluntly refused. Gadkari issued a statement saying he never met Damania. She also alleged that Gadkari tried to prevent BJP’s national secretary

Kirit Somaiya from filing a public interest litigation in the Bombay high court in the multi-thousand crore irrigation scam which is now being christened Maharashtra’s “Watergate”. Gadkari’s counsel S.S.Shamshery has sent a legal notice to Damania asking her to retract her statements and offer a public apology for defaming his client, who would otherwise take legal action. In the notice, Shamshery said Gadkari had no business dealings with Sharad Pawar and it was the BJP’s state unit that first exposed irregularities related to irrigation projects. Another person who has played a crucial role in exposing the alleged scam in the irrigation department is chief engineer in the irrigation department and head of Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute (MERI), Vijay Pandhare. Pandhare’s 15-page letter to governor K. Sankaranarayanan, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and secretary of irrigation department Eknath Patil gave details of how, out of Rs.70,000 crore spent on irrigation projects, nearly Rs.35,000 crore was either wasted or pocketed by a nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and contractors. Pandhare has not been reachable after news of Ajit Pawar’s resignation broke out and NCP activists have been burning his effigies at various places. Girish Kuber, political analyst and editor of Marathi newspaper Loksatta, said, “For the last decade-and-a-half,

Anjali Damania has alleged that Bhartiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari colluded with union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president, Sharad Pawar to supress the irrigation scam. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Maharashtra’s economy and polity has become ‘of the contractors, by the contractors, for the contractors’”. Not a single infrastructure project is undertaken with public good in mind but seen as an opportunity to make money, he added. For Damania, it wasn’t long before a private cause became a public one. Through an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act she found out that the cost of the Kondhane dam project had risen from Rs.56 crore to Rs.328 crore and that too after the contract for the project had been awarded. The reason cited by the government was that it

had decided to increase the height of dam from 39 meters to 71 meters. This increased her determination to probe the scam. She similarly discovered that the cost of Kalu dam in Thane district had more than doubled from Rs.640 crore to Rs.1,400 crore; that of the Balganga dam at Pen in Raigad district had increased threefold from Rs.420 crore to Rs.1,320 crore; and that of the Shai dam in Thane district, from Rs.410 crore to Rs.1,339 crore. Her efforts resulted in threats over the phone, but her initially reluctant family started supporting her after her father-in-law was inspired by a TV

programme on the plight of farmers who had lost their land to dams. Damania went ahead and forced officials of the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) to give her information by threatening to protest in the office of KIDC itself. Mayank Gandhi, president of the Mumbai chapter of India Against Corruption (IAC) said, “Damania approached us and told us about her personal experience with the irrigation department. We sensed a big scam and encouraged her to file RTI applications. Our activists worked closely with her to make sense of all the documents she had received under RTI and from other sources and build a strong case.” After gathering enough ammunition, Damania met chief minister Chavan. Soon after, work on the Kondhane dam stopped and the chief minister ordered an investigation into the functioning of the irrigation department, a move that almost cost him his job at the NCP’s behest. That storm passed, but it was, in many ways, the beginning of the current crisis in Maharashtra. “Whether it is corruption or social evils like female foeticide, the role of whistleblowers is extremely important and is very important for the society and media to stand firmly behind such people as these people act as purifiers in our corrupt system,” said high court lawyer and human rights activist Asim Sarode.

Pakistan’s ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ Sets Twitter Abuzz Hina Rabbani Khar, Bilawal Bhutto’s love story resonates in cyberspace NEW DELHI (India Today) Following the report published in a Bangladeshi tabloid, “The Weekly Blitz”, about the romance between Bilawal Bhutto, the 24-year-old scion of Pakistan’s ‘first’ family, and the 35-yearold Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s foreign minister, the cyberspace is abuzz with endless comments from people in Pakistan. Someone from Pakistan on Twitter suggested that if Hina actually got married to Bilawal, “here is what her name would be- Hina Rabbani Khar Bhutto Zardari,” while other person opined that Hina Rabbani Khar be relieved of her current duties and be given a new portfolio of “Ministry of Love Affairs”.

Another man from Pakistan thinks “Hina Rabbani Khar is a bad influence on poor boy Bilawal! May God Protect this boy and safeguard him!” A Pakistani on Twitter suggested that Hina be given a new portfolio

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of Ministry of Love Affairs. One other person, also from Pakistan, added a political twist to all this, saying, “I wonder if such a thing was done by Imran Khan, what would...” Someone thought this was an entirely personal matter. He tweeted: “Should we care if Bilawal marries Hina,Alka, Laila or even a guy? Let his personal life, remain personal.” Some wondered if this was “the making of Pakistan’s version of Tro-

jan War.” It may be noted that a few Indians on Facebook have launched a community titled ‘Indian Support for Hina Rabbani Khar and Bilawal Bhutto.’ The tabloid has claimed that Bilawal is in love with Hina, who is 11 years older than him and is married to influential businessman Firoze Gulzar and has two daughters - Annaya and Dina. Claiming that its report was based on a secret western intelligence report, the weekly said that both of them have plans to settle in Switzerland after their marriage. President Asif Ali Zardari is reportedly opposed to this relationship as he thinks it would jeopardise not only his

son’s political career but also sound a death knell for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The report further claimed that Asif Ali Zardari caught the duo in a compromising situation inside the President’s house where Bilawal also resides. Hina Rabbani Khar, who is reportedly willing to end her marriage with millionaire businessman Firoze Gulzar, had sent Bilawal a greeting card on his birthday in 2011 with a hand-written message that read: “The foundation of our relations is eternal and soon we shall be just ourselves.” Despite his father’s opposition, Bilawal is said to be adamant on going ahead with his plan to marry Hina.

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